Episode 26 – Partial Transcript
by Heath Enwright, Lucinda Lugeons and Noah Lugeons
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And now the Scathing Atheist.
It’s Thursday, It’s August 15th, and there’s no evidence to suggest anything important happened 2,013 years ago.
I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from begrudgingly heterogenous New York, New York, this is the Scathing Atheist.
In this week’s episode:
A judge in Eastern Tennessee will hand down a verdict in the case of State of Tennessee vs. Whoever the fuck I say you are,
We’ll learn about the lighter side of Nazi symbolism,
And we’ll meet a man who blew up the family dog for all the wrong reasons,
But first, the diatribe…
For some reason, the fact that atheists are smarter than religious people is controversial. The fact that it’s a fact isn’t controversial, of course. That’s been born out by study after study, and regardless of wealth, education, gender and religiosity of the parents, atheists as a group always outscore theists when it comes to the ability to think.
Yes, of course, the smartest Christian is way smarter than the dumbest atheist, but on the average, the nonbeliever is significantly more intelligent than the believer.
And as well established a fact as this is, it’s absurdly polemical. It’s just not polite to talk about. Why, it’s downright rude to point out that people who believe logically incoherent things based on the authority of a guy in a silly hat are dumber than people who don’t. Even if you use big words they’ll know you’re picking on them from the tone of your voice.
Take for example the response to the new meta-analysis from psychologists Miron Zuckerman and Jordan Silberman. You probably saw it on Facebook under the heading “Fucking duh”.
Their study, which was recently published in Personality and Social Psychology Review, looked at decades worth of data from sixty plus well-designed studies and found that, to nobody’s surprise, atheists are still definitely smarter than theists.
And sure, this study has its detractors because religious people are really good at getting angry at reality when it fails to conform to their desires. So sure, a bunch of Christians are yelling “we’re not as stupid as we are!” and a bunch of scientists confirming that they’re wrong. Nothing new to see here. In fact, the only really interesting part of the study was the bit at the end where they try to answer the “why” question.
This is always really tricky for sociologists dealing with this issue. What we have here is a stupid question that demands an intelligent response. Why are atheists smarter than theists? Well, if you define intelligent as the ability to come to correct conclusions when given sufficient information you’re asking why intelligent people are smarter than non-intelligent people. But sociologists aren’t allowed to end their paper with “We conclude that religion is stupid”. So instead they offer up three possibilities to explain the data. And all of them are commendable attempts at not rubbing it in, but none of them stand up to intellectual scrutiny.
The first is that intelligent people are simply less likely to have conformist personalities and are therefore less susceptible to religious indoctrination, leading to lower levels of religiosity later in life. Now I’m sure that this is true and is a contributing factor, but at best it only partially explains the data. Even if you separate out just the people raised without religion, the atheists in the remaining group will still, on the average, be smarter. This fact, which is in their data, completely dismisses possibility number one.
Possibility number two is a little more reasonable. It posits that intelligent people are less likely to accept any belief that isn’t subject to empirical testing or logical reasoning. But as reasonable as this is, it still has no explanatory powers because all they’re saying here is that intelligent people are better at thinking. And yeah, that’s true, but it still doesn’t address the parlor pachiderm.
Which brings us to possibility number three, which is the “gee, shucks” bullshit explanation that relies on four dozen assumptions that are unsupported by their data. They say that perhaps intelligent people are simply less likely to “need” the things religion “provides”. Of course, try as they might, they fail to demonstrate any “benefit” of religion, so this lacks any explanatory powers as well.
It’s worth noting that some of the nonsense in their third possibility is directly contradicted by their own findings, as one of the explanations they try to use is that atheists are generally wealthier and in less need of a supplemental feeling of control. But since the data shows that the trend holds even when you account for wealth, this clearly can’t be the case.
I don’t want to be too hard on the researchers of course. They did the best they could to draw attention to a fact that needs to be given more credence in public discourse.
But if we were being fair, the question “Does an invisible person listen to you when you wish for things?” would be on the IQ test and if you answered yes you shouldn’t be allowed to have an IQ at all, but I know we’re not gonna get that. Still, the premise of this question is pretty simple if you grant that there is a correct answer to the god question. Basically, what we’re saying with this study is “People who got this major question right also tended to get other questions right”. It’s like a study that finds that people who know that capital of Belize are better at geography.
Why are atheists smarter than religious people? Because getting answers correct is the definition of intelligence.
Joining me for headlines tonight is the brains of the operation, Heath Enwright. Heath, are you ready to be statistically more intelligent than your theistic counterpart?
As an atheist, I walk into a church. There’s a guy nailed to a cross, there’s an 80-year-old likely pedophile giving a speech, and there’s a whole bunch of people hanging on his every word. Who’s the Vegas favorite to be smartest guy in the room?
In our lead story tonight, the Obama administration filed an amicus brief in favor of prayer at public meetings in advance of an upcoming Supreme Court challenge to the unconstitutional practice.
I thought Obama was an atheist . . . Uncle Clarence Thomas Aquinas . . . turncoat bastard.
That was a Wheel of Fortune ‘before and after’, a literary race traitor reference, a religious supreme court justice tie in, and a religion connection, all in one.
Give yourself more credit than that, it was a Wheel of Fortune “before and after and after plus before again.”
Anyway, the brief claims that as long as a prayer isn’t clearly intended to proselytize and doesn’t denigrate a particular faith, it is an entirely reasonable way to open a meeting of elected representatives. After all, as the brief points out, the House and Senate both have chaplains and when have either of those bodies ever fucked anything up?
What the fuck does a Congress chaplain do? Pray for separation of church and state? Pray for themself to be fired for a First Amendment violation?
And ALL wasting of taxpayer-funded time denigrates atheists. Live animal sacrifice has the same statistical success as Christian prayer in causing things to happen. Let’s just skip the prayer, save the goat, and have legislative bodies spend ALL their time preventing progress like they’re fucking supposed to.
This is just the latest attempt to reach around to the religious community, to offer a stroking hand of friendship, to bend over frontwards in hopes of attenuating the Prince of Darkness reputation Obama has among evangelicals.
Have I already made a joke about rosary anal beads?
Yes, but you can never make too many.
They’re acting like the beliefs of Christians are somehow informed by facts and occurrences in the real world.
Right, and despite the impressive string of compromises, concessions, copouts and consolation prizes, the fundies continues to clean their guns and stock up on freeze-dried legumes against the inevitability that the population will be imprisoned and forced to pledge their souls to satan.
Obama administration files amicus brief supporting prayer at government meetings: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/08/09/obama-administration-backs-legislative-prayer-in-amicus-brief/
And in “nautical nincompoopery” news tonight, sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip that started from a tropic port when some homophobic weasel-eating rednecks lost the ability to separate Fox News from reality and decided to endanger the lives of their children in a fruitless and ill-conceived attempt to escape the abortion-loving US in favor of the rapidly sinking Kiribati islands.
Listen, I’m not saying bringing your children to almost die with you on a boat is the same as abortion . . . I’m saying it’s MUCH MUCH WORSE!!!
Abortion is quantifiably good for society.
Whereas negligent almost homicide, even bible-inspired negligent almost homicide, not good for society.
30 year old Sean Gastonguay and his 26 year old wife Hannah cited a number of imaginary reasons they chose to leave ‘Murica, including tax payer funded abortion, state control of churches, mandatory homosexuality and the tiny robots that sneak into their brains when they sleep.
Well they’re bluffing about that last thing, because they can’t know about the brain nanobots. That’s the whole thing with nanobots.
As far as the tax-funded abortion, that sounds weird, because I usually get my abortions done at a private doctor, but I never got any voucher checks.
I go to Jerry Orbach as Jennifer Gray’s dad in Dirty Dancing . . . the first and last likable abortion doctor in a movie.
“Nobody puts baby in the dumpster in the corner…”
Anyway back to the harrowing story of our deficient defectors, figuring that nothing goes better with stupid than more stupid, they opted to escape the country by sea; setting sail across the Pacific Ocean with a 3 year old, a baby and absolutely no knowledge or experience in navigation. Hannah explained that they (quote) “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us”, which, as it turned out, was floating aimlessly in the Pacific ocean for three months after rough weather crippled their laughably under-equipped vessel.
I guess it’s a no-brainer for atheists, but if they didn’t get rescued in time, who gets eaten first on that boat?
Family sails away from the gay, abortion loving US and gets lost. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/219129631.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue
And in “Not the preferred nomenclature” news tonight, it turns out there’s a legal limit to how weird a black person’s name can be. Or at least, that’s the opinion of the dishonorable Judge Lu Ann Ballew, who decided to change a 7 month old babies name of her own volition during a custody dispute.
If black people weren’t allowed to give their kid any name they want . . . I’d probably be able to make a racist-sounding analogy right here. But I can’t, so black mothers – and occasionally black fathers – can name their kids whatever they want.
The Eastern Tennessee Judge was hearing a custody case involving a baby named “Messiah” and despite having not been crowned emperor and thus having no legal right to do so, she decided to overrule the birth certificate, explaining that Messiah was a title, not a name and it had only been earned by one person and that person was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Right, because the word messiah comes from Hebrew and appears in the Old Testament, which was that book all about Jesus.
In an effort to explain her actions, Ballew asserted that the name Messiah could cause problems in the largely Christian area. And while I understand the sensitivity to insult a person whose last name kinda rhymes with swallow and has the word ball in it that adjudicates in Cocke County certainly has, that still doesn’t afford her the jurisdiction to rename people’s kids.
Quick story time . . . My atheist friend was being raised Catholic to placate grandparents, and when he got confirmed, he had to choose a saint to have as his confirmation name. So he tried to have “God” as his confirmation name, claiming that Jesus is a saint, and Jesus is God, therefore God is a Saint. To which his priest responded, “Wait, you lost me at therefore” . . .
Tennessee Judge renames baby during custody hearing: http://www.goddiscussion.com/113836/parents-told-by-tn-judge-they-cannot-name-their-baby-messiah/
And in yet another “naked, alien-worshipping lunatics redeeming Nazi regalia” story, the Raelians are in the news for the third time in as many decades this week with a misguided effort to rehabilitate the swastika.
Against all odds, they found something less-defensible than their existing cult beliefs.
And gratuitous mention of terrible attention-grabbing things like swastikas, Nazis, genocide, rape, cancer, abortion, and whatnot . . . That’s no way to get attention. Unless you’re our podcast.
Even I wouldn’t wear an ironic hipster swastika t-shirt.
Boasting a worldwide following nearly equal to the population of Pawtucket City, Rhode Island, the Raelians bill themselves as the world’s largest UFO religion, a statistical advantage cemented by the frequency with which their competitors commit mass suicide.
At this point, if you’re part of some alien cult, and somebody sets up any kind of punch bowl situation, you’ve gotta see that coming.
But if you think about it, they can only claim that because Scientologists are too embarassed to admit what they believe in public.
In the latest installment of their thinly veiled attempt to get people to talk about Raelians, the group flew a swastika laden banner over a popular Long Island beach sporting a web address where people could join them in their fight to reclaim the true meaning of the swastika.
This sounds like the worst Kurt Vonnegut book ever. Some galactically important alien plot that revolved around using swastika shapes for communication, and the Nazis unwittingly fucked up their whole plan, and Kilgore Trout had something to do with it somehow.
Fuckin’ anti-semite tralfamadorians…
Raelians work to take back the Swastika: http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/aug/11/ufo-religion-raelians-reclaim-swastika
And in this week’s installment of CSI: Nazareth, Kenyan Lawyer Dola Indidis is fighting to overturn the conviction of one Jesus H. Christ. Arguing that Jesus clearly didn’t do it, Indidis has filed a case with the International Court of Justice against Pontius Pilate, King Herod and a ham sandwich.
How are Christians mad about this? Didn’t the Romans and the Jews kill Jesus for your sins? Follow the money. Who benefits from Jesus dying? Everyone. We all get to sin for free now. Plus, none of you are supposed to believe Jesus really died! This is all in the script(ure).
Included in his list of defendants are the modern day nations of Italy and Israel. The stuff that Indidis uses in place of logic supposes that Italy incurs guilt for pretty much being Ancient Rome and Israel incurs guilt by being full of Jews.
If they’re found guilty in court, what happens? We crucify a rabbi and a soccer player? Kenya owns Vatican City? Obama takes over as interim Pope?
In one of the greatest dismissals of all time, the International Court of Justice, which exists to hear claims pursued by states rather than individuals working on the behalf of bronze-age superheroes said that (quote) “it is not even theoretically possible for us to consider this case.”
Can’t waste time on religion bullshit, when that princess is still kidnapped, and that Bowser guy is still at large.
Kenyan lawyer works to overturn Jesus’ death sentence: http://www.policymic.com/articles/58445/this-kenyan-lawyer-wants-to-sue-italy-and-israel-for-killing-jesus
And from the “plumps when you cook ‘em” file tonight, police in Stevenson Washington arrested a man last Sunday after he decapitated his dog… with a homemade bomb… because it was possessed by the devil.
Here we are – atheist podcasters – basically reverse-publicists for religion. And they go ahead and start murdering puppies. We don’t even have to try anymore. I don’t think there exists a PR gaff worse, than having your institutional fairy tales lead to puppy murder. I’m gonna say religion and puppy murder one more time.
Feels good doesn’t it? The way we get to link those things because crazy people are almost always deeply religious? Anyway, 45 year old religious puppy murderer Christopher Dillingham was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment and possession of an explosive device last Sunday after strapping a black powder bomb to his labrador retriever and blowing it the fuck up in his backyard at four in the morning.
Bunch of savages. At least when an atheist murders a puppy with an IED, it’s not for an awful reason like religion.
Dillingham explained to police that his ex-girlfriend had given him the dog after imbuing it with evil spirits. When police asked why his windows were broken and a bunch of his shit was strewn around the yard, he explained that many of his utensils were also possessed and that purging his cookware of demonic forces was all part of his rapture preparation strategy.
Crazy people are capable of crazy shit like this, regardless of their feelings about Jesus.
But when sane people start filling crazy people’s heads with shit about impending apocalypses and seven headed dragons rising from the sea, aren’t they at least partially liable for the puppy murder?
I loved that when reporters asked why Dillingham wasn’t facing charges of cruelty to animals the sheriff actually said that such a charge requires proof of the animal suffering and when you blow a dog’s head off, it’s admiring its new collar one second and…
Man blows up family dog because it had devil in it: http://www.christianpost.com/news/man-preparing-for-rapture-blows-up-family-dog-because-it-had-the-devil-in-it-101756/
And finally tonight, in “If that tree wasn’t magic why would it be weeping tears of aphid shit?” news, a group of gullible spunk monkeys in California have managed to convince themselves that a tree outside their church is blessed with holy tears.
They need to bottle that stuff. It only takes 3 god tears to cure a person of homosexuality, and just a dab on the taint restores anal virginity.
Providing yet another example of the cognitive dissonance that religion can inspire, they’ve managed to maintain that belief despite the fact that the “tears” have been identified as a known phenomenon that is not only common in the area, but common on that fucking street!
Yeah it looks like God might have also been crying on my laptop screen and a sock I wore yesterday.
So according to people with knowledge and shit, what we’re actually dealing with is aphid poop. The aphids suck out the tree sap and crap out what arborist Jon Reelhorn describes as a “honey-dew excrement”.
How does this so-called “tree expert” know it’s aphid shit? He’s probably never even read the section of the bible that discusses the fecal form often taken by god’s tears on earth.
Though it wasn’t mentioned in the article, I’m willing to bet the parishioners are now employing the “space-peanut” defense by claiming that it’s a divine honey-dew excrement.
The Holy Shit defense lacks consistency. Not as solid as they think. Hard to digest . . . And a little bit corny, from what I’ve seen.
People pray to “weeping tree”; tears turn out to be bug excrement: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/national/People-pray-at-tree-outside-St-Johns-Cathedral-in-Fresno-California-say-tree-weeps-Gods-tears
That’ll do it for headlines tonight, Heath, thanks as always for joining me.
And when we come back we’ll be one up on Jesus.
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“Run get the young ‘uns folks! It’s time for Lucinda Lugeons Bible Stories for kids”
Today we’re gonna open our bibles up to Genesis and learn all about the first people that god ever made, Adam and Eve.
Adam was god’s finest creation, whom god fashioned in his own image. And Eve was an afterthought made from a rib when Adam decided bulls, sheep and hamsters were inadequate companions. And together they lived in the Garden of Eden.
The Garden was a beautiful paradise where the weather was always nice and there was always enough to eat. There were plenty of delicious fruits to eat, but the very most delicious fruit of them all was the only thing in the whole garden that they weren’t allowed to have, because it would give them knowledge.
God could have made the fruit they weren’t allowed to eat taste really bad or he could have just not put it there at all, but he decided to put the only thing they couldn’t have right there where it would be really, really easy for them to get it. But they didn’t because god had told them not to.
But then the devil came to them in the form of serpent and he spoke to Eve. Because, yes, boys and girls, the devil can inhabit snakes and talk to you. And it’s okay to tell kids that because they would probably have nightmares anyway.
God also could have not made devil snakes or been there when he knew that the devil was tempting Eve, but he decided not to because god is mysterious, so instead he allowed Adam and Eve to disobey him, even though he already knew that they would before they did, because god knows everything.
And when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they realized that they were naked and they were ashamed of it because people should be ashamed of their bodies no matter what and nakedness is evil. And it’s okay to tell kids that because they’d probably already have plenty of suicidal thoughts in their teen years anyway.
So Adam and Eve made clothes out of leaves and they hid when they heard god coming because they didn’t want him to see their naughty bits. So god asked them, “Hey guys, where’s your cock and tits and stuff?”
And Adam told god that he didn’t want god to look at his penis anymore. So god got really mad. And it’s okay to tell kids that because the priests would have probably overpowered them even if they weren’t theologically predisposed to letting authority figures see them naked.
And god said “Did you guys eat the fruit I told you not to eat?”
And Adam said, “It was all Eve’s fault” which meant that god wasn’t the only one who wasn’t gonna see her naughty bits for a while.
So god became so angry that he stole the snake’s legs and made it crawl on it’s belly, which is a punishment even though it’s an equally valid method of locomotion that is better suited to the snake’s ecological niche than legs would be.
And god got so mad at Eve that he made childbirth hurt for all animals forever and ever. And he also kicked them out of the beautiful garden and made them live in a crappier world with hurricanes and earthquakes and disease and stillborn puppies. And he also cursed every human being who would ever live to carry the sin of Eve. Because she ate a fruit god told her not to eat.
And nobody ever lived happily ever after again. Because of a fruit.
Before we power down the engines tonight I wanted to apologize to anybody who got the impression last week that we’d changed to an hour long format. It was an hour long special because of the subject and the divisibility by five but we never actually said that during the show so if you were expecting 30 more minutes at this point, I do apologize.
I also wanted to offer another apology to one of the world’s most important bipeds, Evan. I was checking back over some notes and I’m almost certain that I forgot to thank him a couple of weeks ago for his generous donation. I’m really not sure how it happened and how I managed to keep missing it for several weeks, but Evan, thank you, you’re more awesome than almost everybody on earth and I’m really sorry.
And finishing my trifecta of mea culpas is an apology to Mechy from the Autistic Jesus Facebook page who provided last week’s Farnsworth quote and then didn’t get the plug I promised him in return for it. He’s just getting his page started there but if you can’t get enough godlessness on your Facebook wall, you’ll find a link to his page on the shownotes for this episode.
I also need to thank Heath for making this podcast so damn much better than it would otherwise be and I need to thank my beautiful wife Lucinda for doing a bible story this week despite her miserable head cold.
But of course, most of all, I need to thank this week’s most momentous multicellular organisms, Harry, Kevin, Will, Matthew, Richard, other Richard, Anne, Ben, Tyler and Michael. Harry, Kevin, Richard and Will who are feared by supervillains almost as much as they’re loved by damsels in distress; Other Richard, Anne and Michael who are formidable on their own, but together form the greatest robot warrior in the universe and Matthew, Ben and Tyler, three men with the scientific acumen, the penis girth and the bravery to rape dinosaurs but the willpower not to. These TEN brave and illustrious examples of humanity proved themselves this week by giving us money.
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If you have questions, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact info on the Contact Page at Scathing Atheist (dot) com. All the music used in this episode was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.