The atheist dance

I always enjoy the way atheists leap back and forth between claiming that “no religion” are actually atheists whenever it suits their purposes, then arguing that they are not whenever it doesn’t. The new Pew poll is interesting, but it actually doesn’t say much that wasn’t obvious before from the 2001 ARIS study.

As for that massive growth from .4 percent, .5 percent and 13.2 percent for atheists, agnostics and No Religion in 2001 to 1.6 percent, 2.4 percent and 12.1 percent in 2008 that some atheists are celebrating, that looks a lot more indicative of margin of error than anything else. It’s absurd to try and argue that the attacks of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris on agnosticism has caused 380 percent growth in agnosticism, especially since 48 percent of the “no religious affiliation” report that “religion is either somewhat important or very important in their lives”. I’m a non-denominational Christian myself, so I know many fundamentalist Christians who would show up in this category.

Since ARIS didn’t account for this effect, which Barna later noted, the total irreligious population in America would actually appear to have dropped from 14.1 percent to 10.3 percent over the last seven years. I don’t think this is the case, however, I assume the 14.1 percent was an exaggeration born of insufficient inquiry.

Science bloggers don’t do science

Of course, neither do a lot of scientists:

Now there are thousands of blogs dedicated to science, yet only a few are popular. And strangely the popular ones are only loosely related to science…. If you examine the elephant in the room, ScienceBlogs, the trend is maintained: politics, religion books, technology, education and music are tagged more often than biology or genetics. This suggests that their primary motives are entertainment rather than discussing science.

Actually, I don’t see why the science blogs should be expected to pay any attention to science… it’s not like all that many scientists do either. The biologists are busy drama-queening about stickers on schoolbooks for kids who can’t read or do math when they’re not foolishly declaring war on 4.5 billion theists, the chemists are occupied with hiding the studies that show their shiny new drugs don’t actually do anything, the astrophysicists are writing science fiction about g-strings and multiverses, and a significant percentage of the rest appear to be devoted to the notion that democracy is the only scientific way to examine the global climate while simultaneously advocating the abandonment of democracy in favor of dictatorship by scientist-king. So, I see no reason why Anonymous Coward should see fit to criticize a leading science blogger for devoting his attention to the empirical evidence of Republican evil, the peer-reviewed science of my father’s legal status, and the sophisticated methodological falsifiability of his daughter’s affection for animals when he’s not busy torturing zebrafish or whatever. As Jim Rose so famously said of the man with concrete blocks suspended from his pierced pectorals, “It is science!”

The more I consider the lack of interest that so many so-called scientists demonstrate for actual science in favor of political ideology, the more I’m convinced that science – or at least the method and the knowledge base – would probably be best served by dragging the scientific community outside, shooting the lot, and starting over with nothing but the method. Because at this time, there is no other group of humans on the planet that is doing more to imperil human existence and not very many that are doing more to imperil human liberty.

Just as every philosophy PhD should come with a mandatory cup of hemlock, a science PhD should be accompanied by a Logan’s Run-style hand implant that turns black after 15 years, terminating the implantee. They tend to do all their most useful and significant work in their youth anyhow. Although perhaps the auto-termination should be rethought, since seeing fat bearded men in white coats and glasses being hunted down would probably make for some fairly entertaining television for the bored and desensitized masses.

And now, science fans, you may provide your socially autistic and rhetorically deaf responses for the amusement of the audience.

The relevant math

Delegates: Obama, 1,187; Clinton, 1,035.5.
Superdelegates: Obama, 188; Clinton, 241.5.

Total delegates: Obama 1,375, Clinton 1,277

Texas Primary: 67 delegates
Texas Caucus: 126 delegates
Ohio Primary: 161 delegates

Nomination: 2,025 delegates

Obviously neither the Magic Negro nor the Lizard Queen can win via elected delegates alone, hence all of the righteous democratic posing by the Obama crew. This is why it’s a mistake to put too much weight on the electoral action taking place on March 4th and why there’s no reason for the Lizard Queen to quit regardless of whether she wins Texas and Ohio or not, even if one assumes she was the least bit inclined to allow the opinions of others to impose ny limits on her ambitions in the first place.

The Democratic nomination, and almost surely the Presidency as well, therefore comes down to which campaign has the ability to exert muscle behind the scenes. And while Obama has shown a facility for making his opponents mysteriously disappear in the past, (see Jeri Ryan), it hardly rivals that of Team Clinton.

Why I am not a conservative

Given that I am a strategist of some skill, why would you ever expect me to subscribe to such an amorphous, strategically flawed ideology:

As society is successfully transformed by those who detest the status quo, the status quo changes. This means that the great defender ideology of the status quo, conservatism, will change with it.

“Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.” — G.K. Chesterton

Both liberals and conservatives have shape-shifting visions. This is because the definitions of conservative and liberal are determined by the “position” of the given society ‘s political spectrum. Shift that spectrum left or right by altering the collective ideology of a nation, and the definitions of those two words will change commensurate with the degree of that shift…. This isn’t to say there is no difference between liberal and conservative visions. Liberals construct their vision based on opposition to the conservative one; conservatives’ vision is a product of the now accepted, decades-old vision of the left. Thus, liberals promote today’s liberal vision; conservatives defend yesterday’s liberal vision.

This isn’t new, but it’s a usefully succinct explanation of the strategic flaw inherent to conservatism. Like the feminism, communism and secularism it still tends to oppose at the moment, it is a temporally self-refuting ideology. Yesterday’s liberal is tomorrow’s conservative, as the neocons are demonstrating in bloody spades.

The pushers strike back

Doctors urged patients to keep taking their anti-depressants Wednesday despite a scientific study showing that the drugs are little more effective than placebos in treating depression. Doctors are warning their patients not to suddenly stop taking the medication prescribed to them…. Louis Appleby, national clinical director for Mental Health, told the Press Association: “New exculpatory whitewashingguidance on the treatment of depression will be issued by Nice [the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence] later in the year, and this new study will be buried under technical jargonconsidered as the excuses areguidance is prepared.

In other news, 10 out of 10 doctors surveyed indicated that they would like to continue to be compensated in return for the service they provide in waving a dead chicken over their patients.

The last Republican giant

Requiescat in Pace, William F. Buckley, Jr. I never met the man, never once spoke with him and was never particularly influenced by him. But believe it or not, when I was signed to a national syndication deal by Universal Press Syndicate, it was with the idea that I was going to be an eventual long-term replacement for WFB, whom they had syndicated for donkey’s years. They liked the fact that I was a forthright right-winger and that my columns were more intellectually demanding than the norm, unfortunately, the editors of the nation’s newspapers very much disagreed. But I always felt a sense of personal appreciation for WFB Jr, as I never would have been given that opportunity to fail so spectacularly were it not for him blazing a trail with his labyrinthine sentence structures, heteroclitic vocabularies and the occasional foreign bon mot thrown in for good measure.

I read his National Review all through college and still retain an affinity for it even though I regard a good fifty percent of the writers – and most of the current editors – as traitors to the cause of thwarting history. Love him or loathe him, Buckley was a unique individual and his absence will leave a hole in the American political scene for some time to come.

Update – Ramesh Ponnuru quotes Republican House Leader John Boehner:

As long as America honors the ideals of our Founding Fathers – free speech, freedom of religion, and limited, Constitutional government – his legacy will be cherished.”

An ironic elegy, considering the source. As far as the Republican leadership is concerned, Buckley’s legacy should rival the long shadow cast by Nick Saban in Miami.

Contrarian confidence

Hillary must be a lock to win if Lopez is so sure she’s lost already:

There’s no way she’s winning Tuesday. And I say that with regret, because I think I rather a President Clinton than a President Obama if I have to have one or the other.

You’ll note that most of the professional pundits are pronouncing the death of the Rodham-Clinton campaign. You’ll also note that I am not.