A Quick Commentary on the Updated Mortal Sins List

Vatican updates its thou-shalt-not list.

In olden days, the deadly sins included lust, gluttony and greed. Now, the Catholic Church says pollution, mind-damaging drugs and genetic experiments are on its updated thou-shalt-not list. Also receiving fresh attention by the Vatican was social injustice, along the lines of the age-old maxim: “The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.”

In the Vatican’s latest update on how God’s law is being violated in today’s world, Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, was asked by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano what, in his opinion, are the “new sins.”

He cited “violations of the basic rights of human nature” through genetic manipulation, drugs that “weaken the mind and cloud intelligence,” and the imbalance between the rich and the poor.

Besides the fact that “updating” the list shows just how fake this religion is, it’s overtly hypocritical that they are citing excessive wealth as a sin. Christian churches rake in nearly $20 billion every year, cost taxpayers nearly $1,000 every year due to religion’s tax-exemption, and own between 20 and 25% of the land in the United States (source).

If Christianity wants to point the finger at those accumulating wealth, they need look no further than in their own mirror.

That aside, it’s amazing how vague they are in describing the sins (either the fault of Yahoo! News/Associated Press or the Vatican). What, exactly, are drugs that “weaken the mind and cloud intelligence”? I’m assuming they’re talking about heroin, cocaine, and other drugs like that (since they’re anti-science, I’m sure they’d also wrongfully include marijuana). Do they account for prescription drugs, most of which are potentially more harmful than street drugs? What about people who can take the drug with no ill effects on the strength of the mind or the non-cloudiness of intelligence? These are questions I’m sure no one asked, since their motive isn’t philanthropy anyway.

And, of course, they are, in part, referencing embryonic stem cell research when they cite genetic manipulation as a sin. You know, ignore the fact that stem cell research has a far higher probability of curing diseases like AIDS and some forms of cancer than anything else we’ve come up with thus far, but we shouldn’t take that road because of their intentionally ambiguous criteria for what constitutes life.

I will give credit where credit is due and applaud them for at least taking a positive step forward with their anti-pollution message. However, a familiar adage may apply here: Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Lastly, I would just like to point out and laugh at one more piece of the article:

Closer to home, Girotti was asked about the many “situations of scandal and sin within the church,” in what appeared to be a reference to allegations in the United States and other countries of sexual abuse by clergy of minors and the coverups by hierarchy.

The monsignor acknowledged the “objective gravity” of the allegations, but contended that the heavy coverage by mass media of the scandals must also be denounced because it “discredits the church.”

Yeah, read that last sentence again. The media should be denounced because they’re not helping to cover up the religion’s dirty little secrets. Somehow, I’m sure that no one will care that one of the top guns in the Catholic Church is more concerned with people holding them accountable than holding pedophiles in their own ranks accountable. Religion always gets a free pass with this stuff.

As always, a screed against religion isn’t complete until George Carlin is cited. Enjoy:

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23 comments

  1. Rob

    March 11, 2008 10:12 AM

    Bill,

    You and I are going to have to agree to disagree.

    Just not today. :-)

    Good stuff, once again.

    Bill Maher has a (anti) religion coming out in April, I believe. The early reviews say it’s hilarious. He interviews religious figures, and travels to many religious high grounds, not the least of which is the vatican. I’m looking forward to that almost as much as the first pitch.

  2. Rob

    March 11, 2008 10:14 AM

    Bill Maher has a MOVIE coming out.

    Forget to add that small but important piece of info.

  3. Bill Baer

    March 11, 2008 02:27 PM

    Rob, there’s been a couple things I’ve been desperately waiting for over the winter: Opening Day for the Phillies, George Carlin’s new HBO stand-up It’s Bad For Ya, and Maher’s documentary Religulous.

  4. CJ

    March 11, 2008 02:28 PM

    “Besides the fact that “updating” the list shows just how fake this religion is,”

    Bill, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have genetic experiments when the list started.

    Do you have an actual source for “Christian churches own 25% of the land in America?”

  5. CJ

    March 11, 2008 02:29 PM

    P.S. George Carlin is a 9-11 conspiracy nut. Sad.

  6. Bill Baer

    March 11, 2008 02:50 PM

    CJ, I cited the source for that statistic.

    God is all-knowing and all-powerful, right? God knew that these problems would eventually arise. Why didn’t he make these “issues” sins originally? It’s because religion is false and man-made, and religion is now being exposed as archaic and authoritarian since it’s so behind with the times. They had to adapt, and they’re overtly exposing the falsity of the religion by updating the list.

    And Carlin isn’t a “9/11 conspiracy nut,” he believes in being skeptical and not trusting those in positions of power. People are very touchy when it comes to conspiracy theories; anything less than outright ostracism of conspiracy theorists is believed to be covert support for them. It’s like saying, “If you don’t support the War in Iraq, you support Al Qaeda.”

    Skepticism is always healthy.

  7. CJ

    March 11, 2008 03:44 PM

    The source is an Amazon book listing. Not very strong for such a strong claim.

    Any religion is “fake” in that there is no evidence of a god. Updating a list of admonishments to match modern advances is a bit different.

    Anyone who hasn’t concluded that the 2001 attacks on the U.S. was the sole work of Muslim extremists is not a “skeptic.” They are ideologues.

  8. Bill B.

    March 11, 2008 03:48 PM

    Yeah, if you get the book from a local library, you can peruse through the book for all kinds of facts about religions. The pages in question are 341-349.

    You don’t see anything… fishy… with updating a list of sins that are “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:14-16)? Especially considering that God is all-knowing and all-powerful?

    Anyone who hasn’t concluded that the 2001 attacks on the U.S. was the sole work of Muslim extremists is not a “skeptic.” They are ideologues.

    That’s just close-minded.

  9. CJ

    March 11, 2008 04:09 PM

    Thanks for the “Go to the library” sourcing.
    I’m sure churches own a lot of land. But come on.

    *You don’t see anything… fishy… with updating a list of sins that are “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:14-16)?

    I don’t know as much about the bible as you. I don’t find anything really objectionable with this latest list.

    “Anyone who hasn’t concluded that the 2001 attacks on the U.S. was the sole work of Muslim extremists is not a “skeptic.” They are ideologues.”

    *That’s just close-minded.

    Sorry Bill. It’s been more than six years. Open-minded people have examined the facts and concluded there was no conspiracy. The true believers cling ideologically to the myth. It’s a destructive tactic and it preys on the minds of the young, the uninformed and the paranoid. (I don’t attribute any of these traits to you, but I do see how spreading these myths aids the spread of your political views.)

  10. Bill B.

    March 11, 2008 05:31 PM

    Thanks for the “Go to the library” sourcing.
    I’m sure churches own a lot of land. But come on.

    I don’t see what’s so wrong about citing a book…

    I don’t know as much about the bible as you. I don’t find anything really objectionable with this latest list.

    It’s hypocritical and it hurts certain groups of people (the anti-genetic law, for instance, hurts diseased people). The only good part about it is the anti-pollution stuff.

    It’s been more than six years.

    That’s not even close to enough time. Confidential documents won’t be unsealed until 2021-2028. At that point, when that information is made public, we can make informed decisions on what really happened on September 11, 2001.

    The true believers cling ideologically to the myth.

    I agree with you that some of the conspiracy theorists do cling to it. I’m not supporting those people; I’m supporting people like Carlin who are skeptical of everything that comes from anyone in a position of power. It’s agnosticism towards what we can deduce about 9/11: we don’t have enough information yet.

  11. CJ

    March 11, 2008 09:12 PM

    You can cite an Amazon listing. I could cite another listing “debunking” global warming. It’s not really worth anything.

    *That’s not even close to enough time.

    Holy sh-t. You folks are going to spin this conspiracy stuff for another TWENTY YEARS at least? That’s a whole generation of kids believing in ghosts and Hollywood fantasies.

    It doesn’t matter how many JFK files have been released, the true believers are still convinced Oliver Stone’s corrupt, deranged New Orleans District Attorney is the real source of Truth. Still convinced.

    *I’m supporting people like Carlin who are skeptical of everything that comes from anyone in a position of power. It’s agnosticism towards what we can deduce about 9/11: we don’t have enough information yet.

    So we have less information on one day’s actions that occurred in front of millions of onlookers than we do on global warming and the greenhouse effect? Plus, when it comes power, wealthy comedians who contract with the most influential cable outlet in America would be included as “anyone in a position of power.” I don’t think it’s agnostic at all. It’s hard to not notice that these conspiracy theories just happen to support the ideological view of those who believe the United States is generally a contemptible nation, one guilty of oppressing the very people who “allegedly” masterminded the plot. These myths are just another religion, Bill.

  12. Bill B.

    March 11, 2008 10:55 PM

    You can cite an Amazon listing.

    I’m citing the book… the book isn’t online, obviously I can’t send you to the page. But that’s where the statistics come from.

    You folks are going to spin this conspiracy stuff for another TWENTY YEARS at least?

    I hope you aren’t including me in “you folks.” And I could say the same about your point of view. Neither side knows the answer for sure.

    So we have less information on one day’s actions that occurred in front of millions of onlookers than we do on global warming and the greenhouse effect?

    Actually, there’s very little you could deduce about 9/11 on the day it happened and in the days following. We didn’t know it was Osama bin Laden until almost two weeks later, if I recall correctly. I remember I was in a class and no one — including teachers and adminsitration — had any idea what it was.

    Plus, when it comes power, wealthy comedians who contract with the most influential cable outlet in America would be included as “anyone in a position of power.”

    Are you really equating politicians with comedians?

    I don’t think it’s agnostic at all.

    This isn’t a matter of opinion. The definition of an agnosticism is “asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.”

    It’s hard to not notice that these conspiracy theories just happen to support the ideological view of those who believe the United States is generally a contemptible nation, one guilty of oppressing the very people who “allegedly” masterminded the plot.

    I don’t know about you, but I hear just as many conservatives as liberals citing the conspiracy theories. Just because you’re conservative doesn’t mean you support Bush; they can accuse him of being behind it just as easily.

    These myths are just another religion, Bill.

    They’re not myths. You don’t know what happened on 9/11, and neither does anyone else besides the people directly involved. We will know in the decade of 2020 when those classified documents are released. It’s not even worth arguing about. Your beliefs of what happened on 9/11 have just as little proof.

    And for the record, my view of what occurred falls somewhere in the middle. I don’t think that the Bush administration set it up, but it’s a fact that they knew that planes would be flown into the twin towers, the Pentagon, and the White House on September 11 (they received upwards of 30 warnings prior) and did nothing about it. I believe the Bush administration willingly let the terrorist attacks occur so as to make a seamless entrance into the Middle East, Bush’s plan all along.

  13. Rob

    March 12, 2008 12:14 AM

    Bill, I dare say that if it is your belief that our president knew the exact locations and date that these attacks were going to take place, and chose to do nothing about them, intentionally allowing 3,000 preventable deaths to occur simply to progress his foreign policy desires…your view of what occurred that day does not “fall somewhere in the middle”.

  14. Bill B.

    March 12, 2008 12:36 AM

    It does fall in the middle. The conspiracy theory has the Bush administration planning the terrorist attacks; my view is that they were warned of the attacks but chose to do nothing since they would gain politically from it. In fact, Bush was at his ranch in Texas during the entire month of August in 2001. He didn’t return until a week before the terrorist attacks.

    Here is a list of the warnings that were completely ignored.

  15. CJ

    March 12, 2008 04:38 PM

    “You folks are going to spin this conspiracy stuff for another TWENTY YEARS at least?”
    *I hope you aren’t including me in “you folks.” And I could say the same about your point of view. Neither side knows the answer for sure.

    If I didn’t make it clear, I believe that taking a neutral stance on 9-11 conspiracies, even now, is tacitly endorsing them.

    “So we have less information on one day’s actions that occurred in front of millions of onlookers than we do on global warming and the greenhouse effect?”
    *Actually, there’s very little you could deduce about 9/11 on the day it happened and in the days following.

    No, I’m saying we’ve had more than six years to look at One Day under a microscope, minute by minute, yet you claim we have less information to judge that than, what, a century’s worth of weather data?

    “Plus, when it comes power, wealthy comedians who contract with the most influential cable outlet in America would be included as “anyone in a position of power.””
    *Are you really equating politicians with comedians?

    Not “equating.” Comparing. Conspiracy fever is not merely the brave few seeking The Truth. It is a staple of the film industry. It is winked at by politicians such as John Kerry and John Edwards. It’s 2008. The entertainment industry has enormously influential. Carlin is a part of it.

    “I don’t think it’s agnostic at all.”
    *This isn’t a matter of opinion. The definition of an agnosticism is “asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.”

    That’s the point, Bill. Anyone who reads the political posting on this blog knows there are quite a few things you feel quite certain about. 9-11 conspiracies just happen to support them.

    *I don’t know about you, but I hear just as many conservatives as liberals citing the conspiracy theories.
    Not a chance. Probably some Ron Paul believers, and even that it’s pretty narrow. But a broad, “FK, RFK, MLK, 9-11 combo package? That’s liberal red meat.

    *Your beliefs of what happened on 9/11 have just as little proof.
    If you really believe this, it undermines any claim you have to supporting non-religious, facts-based thinking. It’s flat-out wrong.

    *I believe the Bush administration willingly let the terrorist attacks occur so as to make a seamless entrance into the Middle East, Bush’s plan all along.
    Which happens to nicely match a plurality of liberal voters in surveys. It’s ideological. I’m not going sit back and let this game be played for 20 more years without pointing out the obvious.

  16. Bill B.

    March 12, 2008 05:35 PM

    If I didn’t make it clear, I believe that taking a neutral stance on 9-11 conspiracies, even now, is tacitly endorsing them.

    And I said that this line of thinking is akin to the Republican notion of “If you don’t support the War in Iraq, you support Al Qaeda.”

    No, I’m saying we’ve had more than six years to look at One Day under a microscope, minute by minute, yet you claim we have less information to judge that than, what, a century’s worth of weather data?

    As I mentioned, there are a plethora of documents containing critical information that won’t be declassified to the public until 2021. Those documents include conversations, phone calls, meetings, the whereabouts of specific people, etc. All of those are very important clues in arriving at a conclusion of what happened on 9/11.

    The entertainment industry has enormously influential. Carlin is a part of it.

    Carlin, like me, did not espouse a conspiracy theory; he espoused questioning what you’re told.

    And frankly, your view of conspiracy theories and the entertainment industry is a bit of a conspiracy theory itself.

    Anyone who reads the political posting on this blog knows there are quite a few things you feel quite certain about. 9-11 conspiracies just happen to support them.

    I don’t see what you’re driving at. I share with Al Qaeda the point of view that the U.S. should not be in the Middle East and never should have been. Does that make me a terrorist?

    Not a chance. Probably some Ron Paul believers, and even that it’s pretty narrow. But a broad, “FK, RFK, MLK, 9-11 combo package? That’s liberal red meat.

    We will just have to disagree on this, as we do on others, I guess.

    If you really believe this, it undermines any claim you have to supporting non-religious, facts-based thinking. It’s flat-out wrong.

    Not true. You have very little evidence to support your claims, just as the conspiracy theorists have very little to support theirs.

    And it’s just a talking point to equate something I say to religious thinking. And wrong. I criticize God-belief because there is no evidence to support the existence of a deity; I criticize your 9/11 beliefs because there is no evidence to support it. My beliefs are aligned with skeptical thinking.

    Which happens to nicely match a plurality of liberal voters in surveys.

    Why do you feel the need to ascribe me to groups? Generalization never works.

    I detest the simple gradients being cast upon ideologies.

  17. CJ

    March 14, 2008 02:38 PM

    “If I didn’t make it clear, I believe that taking a neutral stance on 9-11 conspiracies, even now, is tacitly endorsing them.”
    *And I said that this line of thinking is akin to the Republican notion of “If you don’t support the War in Iraq, you support Al Qaeda.”

    I don’t support that notion, since there is no direct link between Iraq and al Qaeda. But there is a direct link between tolerating conspiracies and endorsing them. It’s the same as Creationism vs Evolution. If you say “we don’t know enough to pick one over the other,” you’re supporting the Creationists. That’s all they need to hear.

    *Carlin, like me, did not espouse a conspiracy theory; he espoused questioning what you’re told.
    I submit you receive just as many, if not more, messages to embrace conspiracies as you do the official government line. I submit that pop culture is, ultimately more influential than government.

    *And frankly, your view of conspiracy theories and the entertainment industry is a bit of a conspiracy theory itself.

    But I don’t allege anyone conspires to do anything. I just observe that most recent movies involving terrorism, assassination, or similar threat to the Americans or their government will usually suggest or outright depict an inside job. You can say I’m wrong, but I’m not alleging a conspiracy. It’s just Hollywood’s left-leaning PC roots.

    “Anyone who reads the political posting on this blog knows there are quite a few things you feel quite certain about. 9-11 conspiracies just happen to support them.”
    *I don’t see what you’re driving at. I share with Al Qaeda the point of view that the U.S. should not be in the Middle East and never should have been. Does that make me a terrorist?

    No. I was referring to your claim that you’re just an agnostic ‘asserting uncertainty.’ You have strongly held beliefs about America’s moral inferiority, which conspiracies just happen to support.

    *You have very little evidence to support your claims, just as the conspiracy theorists have very little to support theirs.

    What claims? I don’t know how you define “very little,” but your suggestion that each side have an equal number of facts on their side is ridiculous.

    *And it’s just a talking point to equate something I say to religious thinking. And wrong. I criticize God-belief because there is no evidence to support the existence of a deity; I criticize your 9/11 beliefs because there is no evidence to support it. My beliefs are aligned with skeptical thinking.

    A true skeptic is skeptical of the skeptics. “No evidence” to support what? That is WASN’T a conspiracy? Are we asking to prove a negative again? That’s a favorite tactic for real buffs.

    “Which happens to nicely match a plurality of liberal voters in surveys.”
    *Why do you feel the need to ascribe me to groups? Generalization never works. I detest the simple gradients being cast upon ideologies.

    For the love of Jebus, you’re an avowed socialist. A gradient would show that the sum of all your political posts in recent months puts you left of center, which happens to be the 35% of hardcore Democrats who say Bush knew about 9-11 in advance. I only use it to suggest that it’s possible you give inappropriate weight to the conspiracy claims because they support your worldview. Just as you suggest I too quickly reject the claims.

  18. Bill B.

    March 14, 2008 05:03 PM

    I don’t support that notion, since there is no direct link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

    There is no direct link between 9/11 and the Bush-sanctioned story.

    But there is a direct link between tolerating conspiracies and endorsing them.

    *Shakes head*

    Let me give you an example. My cousin used to use heroin. Given my social libertarian beliefs, I supported his right to use heroin, but I was very upset that he was harming himself in that way. I chose to respect his right to use the drug. Does that mean that tolerating his drug use is also endorsing it? Not at all. I don’t think drug use is a good thing. Personally, I stay away from almost all drugs, prescription, over-the-counter, and otherwise.

    What you’re espousing is an indirect strawman argument.

    It’s the same as Creationism vs Evolution. If you say “we don’t know enough to pick one over the other,” you’re supporting the Creationists.

    No, you’re not. You’re supporting agnosticism.

    I submit you receive just as many, if not more, messages to embrace conspiracies as you do the official government line.

    I can’t think of any recent conspiracy theories besides 9/11.

    I submit that pop culture is, ultimately more influential than government.

    In what regard? It’s unfair anyway since our elected leaders rarely speak to us directly, while artists do speak to us in powerful indirect ways (movies, tv shows, and songs with agendas).

    I just observe that most recent movies involving terrorism, assassination, or similar threat to the Americans or their government will usually suggest or outright depict an inside job.

    This is because of an agenda? It can’t be because that makes for a compelling plot, which leads to a better movie, which leads to more profit?

    You have strongly held beliefs about America’s moral inferiority, which conspiracies just happen to support.

    I think this is a good read.

    What claims? I don’t know how you define “very little,” but your suggestion that each side have an equal number of facts on their side is ridiculous.

    It’s not a game where the side with the most facts wins. Neither side has enough facts to make a definitive claim of what happened on 9/11. And as I mentioned, neither side will until at least 2021.

    A true skeptic is skeptical of the skeptics.

    This is paradoxical.

    “No evidence” to support what? That is WASN’T a conspiracy?

    That’s intentionally misleading. Rephrase it to: Evidence that the Bush administration had nothing to do with 9/11.

    the 35% of hardcore Democrats who say Bush knew about 9-11 in advance.

    That Bush knew about 9/11 in advance isn’t a conspiracy theory; it’s a fact. And did you make up that number? If not, where did you get that figure from?

    you give inappropriate weight to the conspiracy claims because they support your worldview.

    I am human and I do have my biases, but even if I liked the President a lot, I’d still support rational thinking and skepticism, even if it put him under the heat lamp, so tos peak.

  19. CJ

    March 14, 2008 10:30 PM

    *There is no direct link between 9/11 and the Bush-sanctioned story.

    OK. I let you slide long enough. Tell us what is the disconnect between the truth and the story ‘sanctioned by Bush’ (as well 99% of American journalists…including the 99% who have been adversarial toward the Bush administration, such as CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, LA Times, NY Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, etc.) Don’t they ‘sanction’ the non-conspiracy line too?

    “But there is a direct link between tolerating conspiracies and endorsing them.”
    *Let me give you an example. My cousin used to use heroin. Given my social libertarian beliefs, I supported his right to use heroin, but I was very upset that he was harming himself in that way. I chose to respect his right to use the drug. Does that mean that tolerating his drug use is also endorsing it? Not at all.

    [Slaps hand to forehead]…The difference, I hope, is…you’re not pretending that the “Heroin harms you” vs “Heroin is great” debate is a real “debate.” You took a side. You ‘respect his right’ to be wrong, like I respect the right of conspiracy buffs to voice their opinion, but you don’t take the ‘Hey, it’s not good, or bad…keep an open mind’ approach. Because that kind of silence in the face of a harmful delusion is a tacit endorsement.

    “It’s the same as Creationism vs Evolution. If you say “we don’t know enough to pick one over the other,” you’re supporting the Creationists.”
    *No, you’re not. You’re supporting agnosticism.

    So, you think Creationism is as likely as Evolution?

    “I submit you receive just as many, if not more, messages to embrace conspiracies as you do the official government line.”
    *I can’t think of any recent conspiracy theories besides 9/11.

    I didn’t say “recent” regarding the overall messages. JFK, RFK, MLK…they all follow the 9-11 conspiracy script. But….I did just see a CNN promo for the Martin Luther King assassination, “The Real Story!” The man HBO paid to make the “film of record” on Hurricane Katrina, Spike Lee? Says maybe Bush blew up the levees. HBO. Blew. Them. Up. How about major studio movies about assassinations? Pick any you want. “Shooter” anyone? I could be wrong, but I think you’re just as likely to be accepting conventional wisdom as me.

    “I submit that pop culture is, ultimately more influential than government.”
    *In what regard?

    In regard of our topic: shaping perception of the truth.

    “I just observe that most recent movies involving terrorism, assassination, or similar threat to the Americans or their government will usually suggest or outright depict an inside job.”
    *This is because of an agenda? It can’t be because that makes for a compelling plot, which leads to a better movie, which leads to more profit?

    WHY it is doesn’t matter. I’m just suggesting that the conspiracy storyline does not run counter to conventional wisdom, it constantly peddled by the most powerful outlets of pop culture. I just don’t consider towing that line to be a sign a healthy skepticism.

    “You have strongly held beliefs about America’s moral inferiority, which conspiracies just happen to support.”
    *I think this is a good read.

    Causation-correlation was a good read 20 years ago, when I read the grownup version, not the Wiki version. My statement was based solely on your statements. If I’m wrong, just say so. The 9-11 conspiracies….the 9-11 attacks themselves, are generally defended by the notion that the U.S. is deeply flawed, morally. The lines intersect and diverge at various points. Hard not to notice.

    “A true skeptic is skeptical of the skeptics.”
    *This is paradoxical.

    Unless the “skeptics” are influential enough to get HBO specials. Then it’s perfectly logical.

    ““No evidence” to support what? That is WASN’T a conspiracy?”
    *That’s intentionally misleading. Rephrase it to: Evidence that the Bush administration had nothing to do with 9/11.

    It’s not misleading at all. You did it again. Make everyone else prove the American government DIDN’T do what you allege. Challenging others to prove a negative…the conspiracy buff’s main food source.

    “the 35% of hardcore Democrats who say Bush knew about 9-11 in advance.”
    *That Bush knew about 9/11 in advance isn’t a conspiracy theory; it’s a fact. And did you make up that number? If not, where did you get that figure from?

    Yeah, Bill. I spend all this time debating politics with a Phillies blogger just to make up numbers. 35% of Democrats: Link

    Now, you support your “fact.”

    *I am human and I do have my biases, but even if I liked the President a lot, I’d still support rational thinking and skepticism, even if it put him under the heat lamp, so tos peak.

    I believe you. I just hope you believe that other skeptical, rational thinkers can disagree.

  20. Bill B.

    March 15, 2008 02:07 AM

    Tell us what is the disconnect between the truth and the story ‘sanctioned by Bush’

    I can’t tell you, that’s what I’ve been saying all along. None of us, except the people directly involved, know truly what happened. We won’t know for another 15 years.

    like I respect the right of conspiracy buffs to voice their opinion

    You haven’t shown any respect for them to voice their opinion.

    So, you think Creationism is as likely as Evolution?

    Me? No.

    But if we’re being “scored,” saying “we don’t know right now” wouldn’t be supporting creationism, since creationism states that we do know, and it was God.

    The man HBO paid to make the “film of record” on Hurricane Katrina, Spike Lee? Says maybe Bush blew up the levees.

    We have enough facts to show that this isn’t true. For instance, the federal government cut about $80 million in funding for the levees; they ignored warnings that the levees weren’t strong enough to withstand a Category V hurricane, stuff like that.

    In regard of our topic: shaping perception of the truth.

    Anyone dumb enough to think a movie like The Bourne Identity is referencing reality deserves to be deluded. I think you’re being way too cynical about the intelligence of the general public, and this is coming from me.

    I’m just suggesting that the conspiracy storyline does not run counter to conventional wisdom, it constantly peddled by the most powerful outlets of pop culture. I just don’t consider towing that line to be a sign a healthy skepticism.

    Regardless of where people are getting their motives from, don’t you think it’s important to question this kind of stuff?

    The 9-11 conspiracies….the 9-11 attacks themselves, are generally defended by the notion that the U.S. is deeply flawed, morally.

    The U.S. meaning the government? The Presidency? Yes, of course. This has been proven time and time again that politicians say one thing and do another. That’s why it’s so important to ask questions.

    Unless the “skeptics” are influential enough to get HBO specials. Then it’s perfectly logical.

    You can’t be skeptical of skepticism. You can be skeptical of the agenda of the skeptics, however. I think that’s what you’re aiming for, and I agree with you 100%.

    Make everyone else prove the American government DIDN’T do what you allege.

    You can state it both ways. For instance…

    Positive: Al Qaeda terrorists flew planes into the twin towers.
    Negative: The U.S. government didn’t fly planes into the twin towers.

    Positive: The U.S. government flew planes into the twin towers.
    Negative: Al Qaeda terrorists didn’t fly planes into the twin towers.

    Yeah, Bill. I spend all this time debating politics with a Phillies blogger just to make up numbers.

    I wasn’t accusing you of anything, just curious about the statistic.

    That’s an interesting survey. Democrats aren’t that much more likely than Republicans, surprisingly.

    Now, you support your “fact.”

    What would you like?

    I believe you. I just hope you believe that other skeptical, rational thinkers can disagree.

    Yeah, I’d much rather question everything than question nothing. Too many people in this country would prefer the boat not be rocked.

  21. CJ

    March 16, 2008 03:19 PM

    *I can’t tell you, that’s what I’ve been saying all along. None of us, except the people directly involved, know truly what happened. We won’t know for another 15 years.

    That’s the problem with these things. There’s always some document just over the horizon that will tell us the truth. No matter what’s been released regarding JFK, the true believers will always be searching for the Holy Grail, and recruiting new believers. There is a line that some truth-seekers cross and become something else. Not saying you’re there. Just that there is a line.
    Since even the most liberal mainstream news outlets aren’t taking a “We don’t know yet” stance, you’ll have to inform me as to what secret documents are you referring to.

    “like I respect the right of conspiracy buffs to voice their opinion”
    *You haven’t shown any respect for them to voice their opinion.

    I respect *the right* for them to voice their opinion. I respect the right of people who believe the moon landing was a hoax to voice theirs, too. But I have to use my right to speak as a counter-weight to their destructive opinions. As much as I loved Carlin, I can’t pretend to know that he has no political agenda.

    *But if we’re being “scored,” saying “we don’t know right now” wouldn’t be supporting creationism, since creationism states that we do know, and it was God.

    But we don’t “know” that there is no god. It’s just that any “evidence” of a god has a more sensible explanation. We don’t “know” that the theory of evolution is the right one, it’s just that the evidence supports it. Most of us make the call, and say that evolution is correct. We’re not waiting for more information.

    “The man HBO paid to make the “film of record” on Hurricane Katrina, Spike Lee? Says maybe Bush blew up the levees.”
    *We have enough facts to show that this isn’t true. For instance, the federal government cut about $80 million in funding for the levees; they ignored warnings that the levees weren’t strong enough to withstand a Category V hurricane, stuff like that.

    Obviously it’s not true. This was in response to “I can’t think of any recent conspiracy theories besides 9/11” as well as your notion that conspiracy views aren’t encouraged by powerful opinion-shapers like HBO.
    *Anyone dumb enough to think a movie like The Bourne Identity is referencing reality deserves to be deluded. I think you’re being way too cynical about the intelligence of the general public, and this is coming from me.
    We can debate the effect. I’m just noting that conspiracy views are not automatically the sign of an open mind. It’s pop culture. Message after message, it’s the same: the American government is corrupt and sinister, and every patriot is a cynically misused fool. I am skeptical of such conventional wisdom.
    *Regardless of where people are getting their motives from, don’t you think it’s important to question this kind of stuff?
    Sure. Just accept the answer, even if it challenges your worldview.
    “The 9-11 conspiracies….the 9-11 attacks themselves, are generally defended by the notion that the U.S. is deeply flawed, morally.”
    *The U.S. meaning the government? The Presidency?

    No, if you believe the U.S. has been wrong since its founding (before actually, since its settlement), it goes beyond “the government.”

    *You can’t be skeptical of skepticism. You can be skeptical of the agenda of the skeptics, however. I think that’s what you’re aiming for, and I agree with you 100%.

    That’s it. That’s why I said I was skeptical of the “skeptics” not “skepticism.” I think we have both concluded that a certain amount of received wisdom has proven false.

    “Make everyone else prove the American government DIDN’T do what you allege.”
    *You can state it both ways. For instance…Positive: Al Qaeda terrorists flew planes into the twin towers. Negative: The U.S. government didn’t fly planes into the twin towers.

    But…no one can “prove” that the government DIDN’T control the aircraft. That’s the kind of standard the conspiracy buffs rely on.
    *That’s an interesting survey. Democrats aren’t that much more likely than Republicans, surprisingly.
    Did I misread it? It says: Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure. Republicans reject that view and, by a 7-to-1 margin, say the President did not know in advance about the attacks.
    *What would you like?
    Something to support your “It might be a lie” allegation.
    “I believe you. I just hope you believe that other skeptical, rational thinkers can disagree.”
    *Yeah, I’d much rather question everything than question nothing. Too many people in this country would prefer the boat not be rocked.
    I agree, with three qualifiers which could be tagged “wuss out” or “mature” depending…1.Question, but accept the answer. 2. Also question the questioner. 3. Don’t encourage kids to “question authority.” They’ll do that by nature. What they need to know is that they have a limited time in which they have to shut up and learn, so that they can ask the right questions later.

  22. Bill Baer

    March 16, 2008 06:40 PM

    That’s the problem with these things. There’s always some document just over the horizon that will tell us the truth.

    This isn’t just some pipe dream.

    No matter what’s been released regarding JFK, the true believers will always be searching for the Holy Grail, and recruiting new believers.

    I don’t know much about the JFK assassination, but I have to assume that 99% of the facts out there have been uncovered. That is enough to draw a conclusion from. I haven’t looked over all the facts, so I don’t know which is the proper conclusion. I’m assuming it’s that JFK was killed by a lone gunman (Oswald).

    Since even the most liberal mainstream news outlets

    Oh, no… not another “liberal media” claim. I am going to have to quote Chuck Klosterman if you really feel that the media has a bias.

    you’ll have to inform me as to what secret documents are you referring to.

    It’s not like they have a name or something; no one’s seen them, but we know the government has classified information regarding the event, and they are able to stay classified for 20 years before they have to be released publicly.

    As much as I loved Carlin, I can’t pretend to know that he has no political agenda.

    Everyone has an agenda. And what, specifically, would Carlin’s be? He has a very cynical view of people, why would he waste his time trying to enlighten people who he thinks are uneducated and ditzy?

    We don’t “know” that the theory of evolution is the right one, it’s just that the evidence supports it.

    For the record, evolution isn’t a “theory” in the everyday sense of the word. That humans evolve is a fact; it is called a “theory” in the scientific sense.

    Most of us make the call, and say that evolution is correct. We’re not waiting for more information.

    There’s a difference, though: we have a ton of evidence in favor of evolution; we have very little to make any kind of a judgment of what happened on 9/11.

    Message after message, it’s the same: the American government is corrupt and sinister, and every patriot is a cynically misused fool. I am skeptical of such conventional wisdom.

    Hmm… I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I think it’s healthy to have a cynical view of one’s government. Where we diverge is that you think such skepticism is bad because it fosters some extremism, while I don’t think it’s bad as it’s just part of the territory.

    No, if you believe the U.S. has been wrong since its founding (before actually, since its settlement), it goes beyond “the government.”

    I’m curious about this. Is this referencing the notion that the U.S. murdered, raped, and pillaged American Indians and the Mexicans in the South?

    But…no one can “prove” that the government DIDN’T control the aircraft. That’s the kind of standard the conspiracy buffs rely on.

    Sure you can prove that: prove that those that did control the aircraft were not in any way sanctioned by the U.S. government.

    Did I misread it?

    No, I don’t think 7-to-1 (14%) is much more than 35%, especially considering the party lines. That’s a lot of skeptical Republicans, in my view. That’s why I’m surprised.

    Something to support your “It might be a lie” allegation.

    I’d basically be quoting some of the stuff from the conspiracy theorists, which you wholly reject. To be fair, a lot of the facts that the prominent conspiracy theorists use are trash, but some that they use do have merit.

    3. Don’t encourage kids to “question authority.” They’ll do that by nature. What they need to know is that they have a limited time in which they have to shut up and learn, so that they can ask the right questions later.

    Agree with the first two, strongly disagree with this one.

    In this culture, I emphatically state that kids are taught to not question authority. Kids need to be taught to ask critical questions at an early age. I was, and it was in spite of my education. Throughout my educational career, I routinely asked questions and challenged authority (including my high school administration).

    I think it’s sad that kids are taught not to do this anymore. I can’t remember anyone at my school actively protesting the War in Iraq when it started (I didn’t either, but I had hardly anyone in overt agreement with me about it). Hardly any of my peers know what the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is, or what the FISA is. Yet all of them think shows like “Rock of Love” are great.

    Americans are undereducated, politically apathetic, lazy, and easily distracted. I personally think it all stems from a lack of being taught to think critically.

  23. CJ

    March 18, 2008 09:31 PM

    *I don’t know much about the JFK assassination, but I have to assume that 99% of the facts out there have been uncovered. That is enough to draw a conclusion from. I haven’t looked over all the facts, so I don’t know which is the proper conclusion. I’m assuming it’s that JFK was killed by a lone gunman (Oswald).

    I appreciate the honesty, but that tells you a lot. Nearly a half-century later, you’ve heard enough conspiracies that you don’t know for sure what the truth is. After nearly a half-century. You can understand my skepticism that the 9-11 conspiracies will die out in 20 years. That tells you something about conspiracies and pop culture’s reluctance to promote critical thinking.

    *Oh, no… not another “liberal media” claim. I am going to have to quote Chuck Klosterman if you really feel that the media has a bias.

    Go for it. I know it. I lived it. It’s just a fact. No conspiracy…it’s just natural. Doesn’t speak to facts themselves, just how they’re presented. Most journalist are liberal-leaning. More liberal than the general population. I’ll destroy that guy, whoever he is.

    *It’s not like they have a name or something; no one’s seen them, but we know the government has classified information regarding the event, and they are able to stay classified for 20 years before they have to be released publicly.

    Oh.

    *Everyone has an agenda. And what, specifically, would Carlin’s be?

    Going out on a limb, it’s the standard 60s-70s ‘all traditions and institutions are bogus or stupid or both.’ Except, or course, the modern institutions that support and cultivate messages like his. Again, that’s from a former serious Carlin fan.

    *There’s a difference, though: we have a ton of evidence in favor of evolution; we have very little to make any kind of a judgment of what happened on 9/11.

    “Very little?” To many “ANY kind of judgment?” That’s just not correct.

    *Hmm… I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I think it’s healthy to have a cynical view of one’s government.
    Where we diverge is that you think such skepticism is bad because it fosters some extremism, while I don’t think it’s bad as it’s just part of the territory.

    Not at all. We diverge where you limit your skepticism to a narrow list of targets. Government? Check. The most influential opinion-shapers? Not so good. You cling to the belief that embracing the conventional view of “diabolical Americans” is somehow a demonstration of healthy skepticism. I think it’s the opposite.

    “No, if you believe the U.S. has been wrong since its founding (before actually, since its settlement), it goes beyond “the government.””
    *I’m curious about this. Is this referencing the notion that the U.S. murdered, raped, and pillaged American Indians and the Mexicans in the South?

    Indeed. That you believe this is more than historical fact, that it’s a defining characteristic of the U.S.

    *Sure you can prove that: prove that those that did control the aircraft were not in any way sanctioned by the U.S. government.

    I can only offer overwhelming evidence of that. Not proof. That’s the problem with conspiracies.

    *No, I don’t think 7-to-1 (14%) is much more than 35%,

    Well, 35% is between twice to three times as much as 14%. Kinda much more.

    “ Don’t encourage kids to “question authority.” They’ll do that by nature. What they need to know is that they have a limited time in which they have to shut up and learn, so that they can ask the right questions later.”
    *Agree with the first two, strongly disagree with this one. In this culture, I emphatically state that kids are taught to not question authority. Kids need to be taught to ask critical questions at an early age.

    But kids question authority NATURALLY. From the minute they can conceive of authority, they question it. I don’t see the virtue in encouraging what comes as naturally as eating and pooping. (This is probably where our personal experiences feed our views…I’m raising kids, you seem at a different stage.) Pop culture, ads, movies, cartoons, TV… when it does feature “authority,” the storyline is to question it, expose its absurdity, and bask in the glow of the wee ones’ superior intellect. Pop music. Rock. Rap. It’s all “question authority to be cool.”

    When I said “kids” I wasn’t really referring to high school kids. More preteen. But even the latter, it takes endless labor just to teach them the basics of writing and math and science, and civility, and maturity….I think they have time later for fighting the man. And by later I mean the rest of their lives. The time they have to just shut up and learn is relatively brief. But it will help them to question authority – intelligently – later.

    *Americans are undereducated, politically apathetic, lazy, and easily distracted. I personally think it all stems from a lack of being taught to think critically.

    Aside from the standard, exaggerated notion that this is an “American” trait…it’s amazing that we could both post the same observation, yet come at it from so different angles.

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