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The Worst Person

Well said Mr. Olbermann

related: Rep. Monique Davis to atheist Rob Sherman: `It’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!' (tip to Jason)




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Countdown w/Keith Olbermann
Keith's latest book is Truth and Consequences: Special Comments on the Bush Administration's War on American Values

 

Comments

"World's worst person"--sounds like the way my 3 year old talk about people he doesn't like. And since we don't use that kind of language in our home, we try to teach him more constructive ways to express himself. I think Mr. Olbermann could benefit from reading something like Dr. Sears' "The Successful Child."

madfarmer,

Its called comedy and irreverence. I am glad your 3 yr old doesn't have a TV show because it would be really really boring.

Buy yourself a television.

Anyway, beautiful bit by Keith. Always a man to trust to say what needs to be said.

RedSeven,

My son doesn't have a TV show but a couple of his youtube videos are pretty good--especially his "This Old Man" mash-up with Spike Jonzes-styled choreography, albeit in diapers. I think he calls it "positive expression and refraining from unproductive hyperbole."

If you do buy us a TV, could you make it a digital one? We only have this old analog one, and all it seems to pick up is Japanese programs anyway...

could you make it a digital one?

It's the only way to go. although if your current one is playing Japanese then you may have bigger issues then image resolution.

RedSeven,

We live in Japan, so the TV's OK :) But after 2011, analog TVs will be unusable without a digital adapter...

Let her know how you feel! Write, Email, or call

1234 West 95th Street Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 445-9700 (773) 445-5755 FAX mdavis2147@aol.com

I called Rep. Davis’ office yesterday (the staffer there was very pleasant) and politely asked her about the feedback that has been coming in on this. Thus far Davis has received calls that are unanimous in condemning her comments. Everyone has been disappointed or outraged and not one call has supported her ignorant outburst.

I too would encourage everyone to very politely call and express your opinion as well. This kind of “leadership” should not go unchallenged. I feel embarrassed for the people of the 27th district and I hope they make a change at their next opportunity.

Well, something good may just come out of this Ms. Davis and her ignorant tirade. Earlier I'd posted about this case on a right-wing blog ranting about the evils of Islamic radicals freaking over Danish cartoons. The poor souls were torn over whether to defend a Democrat or an atheist. In a pinch they decided to insult me and call the post "off topic" and then of course my post was deleted from the site.

Can't have any relevant info fogging up their black and white view of the world. :)

There's a hilarious bit of irony going on here. If an representative - most of whose constituents are religious - makes a statement of her beliefs about atheism, she must be condemned and ridiculed. Yet I'm willing to bet 99% of you are cackling gleefully about your 'Flying Spaghetti Monster' and so forth.

Religion is attacked at all times. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with someone attacking atheism, particularly since atheists are so enamored with themselves that they can't seem to form any type of criticism of the ideology.

Odd that it never occurs to anybody that teaching your children to grow up with no moral structure whatsoever might have negative repercussions. We'll just put blind faith in the hope that they'll do the right thing, while repeatedly assuring them that there really is no reason to do so, and no punishment if they don't. I'm sure it will all work out fine.

I always have to note that I say this as an atheist. I despise the nouveau atheism that is sweeping this nation, which is really just hedonism and cynicism wearing a mask.

Calligraph - I hope I am mistaken in my interpretation of your offering, but are you really saying (as an atheist) that atheism cannot provide a moral structure? My understanding of the furore about the Davis outburst was on the grounds of free speech and freedom of religion - not ridiculing her personal views but that she expressed them in that context. I also fail to see the link between hedonism (the pursuit of sensual self-indulgence) and atheism. Finally, speaking very personally, I find no problem in being both an atheist and a cynic, and needing no mask for either.

Caligraph? Really? Athesits dont have an agenda. We aren't "united and looking for a cause."

We're just tired of being treated like "the devil"

No one really knows why we are here, and for anyone to pretend they do is nothing short of pretentious. Religion has no place in politics, and when you try to use it to defend yourself, you should've already lost.

I thought America was all about freedom, not just the freem people agree with, but the freedom to do and believe what you want, as long as you don't impose upon anyone elses freedom. Thats just my understanding of freedom though. Perhaps there is a different idea of freedom in this country. Should that be the case, than we can all argue about why our own personal idea of "freedom" should be imposed upon everyone else.

Atheism is NOT a religion, it is the LACK of a religion.

You cant condem an atheist for any more reasons than you can condemn a person for not believing in ghosts.

"Nouveau Atheism"? Is the new Atheism of not believing in gods like the old Atheism of Col. Ingersoll (also from Chicago) who didn't believe in gods? Perhaps I should consult David Read's book about confronting the "New Atheism" that was published in 1966, or Morey's, The New Atheism that was published in 1994, or the countless books published this year about the subject of, you guessed it, the new Atheism.

How has lacking a belief in gods reinvented itself again?

My guess is that Calligraph is thinking of the new Athiest movement (bestsellers) and the Christopher Hitchens of the world.

These sorts find absolute glee in riduculing the religious and feel they are intellectually superior than 'people who believe in ghosts'. This is another form of intolerance, btw.

Yes, religious folks have condemned athiests in some VERY bad ways, but that does not mean athiests should adopt thier flawed behavior.

I've even smelled some serious attitude from the athiests floating around here.

Note: I am not an athiest, nor am I a diest. I think science will someday be able to measure a Thing in the universe that people have been calling God. This may have the simple form of some sort of 'galactic/quantum weather': A naturally occuring thing that people currently ascribe super-natural and anthropromorphic qualitites to, like Poseidon and Zeus of old.

In my mind, hard core athiests are people who 130 years ago said we would never fly, let alone break the sound barrier and walk on the moon in the next century.

I heard that "argument", Robinson, over 50 years ago from a canon of Lincoln Cathedral who was trying to teach us lads about religion. It was hopeful speculation then and it is hopeful speculation now. The people of whom you speak - "hard core atheists" (note the spelling) were denying the possibility of scientific progress - not arguing against superstition and faith in the unknowable. Your pseudo-scientific argument equates with many of the past - both in science and not - people seem to need to invent something to explain what they cannot explain (ether and phlogiston come to mind in old science) but those were testable and have been disproved. Your 'Thing' may well be provable in the future, but if it IS then it becomes scientific and not supernatural.

Nice one, Caligraph. Yes, atheists have "no moral structure" simply because they reject supernatural explanations for the universe and everything in it. Brilliant stuff. Also, I don't see a shred of hedonism in what you refer to as nouveau atheism. Is Richard Dawkins a hedonist? Daniel Dennet? Christopher Hichens? PZ Meyers? Where are these hedonists-cum-athiests anyway?

In my mind, hard core athiests are people who 130 years ago said we would never fly, let alone break the sound barrier and walk on the moon in the next century.

Robinson, I think if you do a little research, you will find that it was always the religious zealots who opposed these things by saying, "if man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings." Also, it was the launching of Sputnik that caused America's anti-evolution laws to be overturned.

Okay, last comment on this topic...the issue here isn't about which belief system is most just or honest or whatever, the issue is whether public funds can be used to promote religion. Both the US & Illinois Constitutions expressly forbid the use of public funds for the promotion of religion, which is what the witness was testifying about. The state of Illinois had given a million dollars to a Baptist organization in clear violation of the law. This is clear whether you are Catholic, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Wiccan or atheist. The Separation clause protects all religious views, even those of hopelessly ignorant state representatives.

Calligraph is right. Athiesm doesn't mean one has a moral structure. Athiesm doesn't mean much at all. All I'm saying when I call myself an athiest is, "your sky creature doesn't make sense and your rituals are futile". "Christianity" doesn't mean much either, when you start digging.

Go ahead, ask a xtian whether or not their sexually assaulted daughter is going to hell for getting an abortion of her fathers kid. Or what about down in texas, where those religious types are marrying children and turning those children into young baby machines. Their "morals" teach them to do that, mind you. Or what about the catholic church who is molesting children into bankruptcy, as Greg Geraldo says.

Or how about we put out a order to kill authors who speak poorly about our religion, or even draw a picture that has to do with our religion.

I'd rather be a so-called hedonist than part of a religion that supports murder, abuse, discrimination, wars, oppression of women, etc. etc.

pedantsareus,

Pointing out spelling errors from a guy feeding his baby at 3:38am makes you look petty.

I don't think that it IS 'hopeful speculation' any more than I think quantum physics, the loony string theory, etc are 'hopeful speculation'. I did not BEGIN with a belief and am trying to justify it. I have personally seen MANY things that don't work with our modern view of the world.

The ESP stuff with my family and wife (when I am near my wife's head, I can nearly always tell if she has a headache or not, and exactly where in her head it is).

I could mention my friend the Lakota Soux woman who I'd known for years. She saw my cousin for the first time, ran her hand up and down over his body and said "you were kicked here by a horse when you were 12.". Dead on accurate and something no one else in the room knew.

I can't explain that. I also understand humanity's flawed view of the world, seeing one positive occurance as over-riding ninety negative ones to form an irrational, persistant belief. But in my unversity's High Energy Physics Lab, they had one positive result in several thousand tries. and these results are not always re-testable. Papers are still published.

And that is a problem. An event that happens once DID happen. It may not be repeatable. It may be impossible to test. But so much in the past was exactly that. Electricity comes to mind. Tesla used his TOUNGE to measure current before the correct instrument was available. He intuitively understood things we still do not. Luckily his technology was backed by Westinghouse and found a market. New York went from gas to electricity.

I simply say that we are not done yet. We can not pretend to understand that which we cannot measure.

I also know that human brains anthropromorphize things. That is, most of our 'noggin' is used to interpret human faces and actions and assign meaning. This is a survival neccesity in the hive-like society we live in. Our brains assign similar meaning/motivation to other objects and events. We say the storm was 'angry', or the car 'doesn't like me and won't start'. Boats are women, hurricanes get named, etc. Our brains also form our societies based on hard-wired ideas like "fairness" and those get thrown into the mix. Good people to to heaven, etc.

In my mind (and Richard Dawkins'), this is exactly why most religions exist. We see 'good things or bad things happen to good people' and our brains treat the world as if it is a person to figure out the 'why' in the manner it knows best. What motivated the world to do this thing to me?

This is also (in my mind) religion's greatest failing. The world probably doesn't give a rat's ass about you, but there may be other subtle things happening (quantum physics is mighty odd) that defy the current mosty Neutonian world view of action->reaction.

What IF (and it has been done in repeated experiments) coin flips tend to favor an observer wanting heads? What does that mean? Technically, that could be comperable to 'prayer = change in the physical world'.

But, I don't think it means a guy with a white beard in the sky is angry and wants someone to be stoned for being gay. It may indicate something subtle and eventually, provable about the universe however, which is certainly far more queer than my brain can possibly imagine.

Espescially at 3:38am (intentional typo).

But in my unversity's High Energy Physics Lab, they had one positive result in several thousand tries.
I bet the researcher prayed that time.
What IF (and it has been done in repeated experiments) coin flips tend to favor an observer wanting heads? What does that mean? Technically, that could be comp[a]rable to 'prayer = change in the physical world'.

Um, so, care to link any of those? Are you sure it's not just a percieved "favor?"

whydoesntgodhealamputees.com

It may indicate something subtle and eventually, provable about the universe however, which is certainly far more queer than my brain can possibly imagine.

So, all "god" means to you is the unknown in the universe? Call it what you will, but I'd hardly consider you to be a theist. I'd venture to say I agree with most of what you say, except calling it "god", which doesn't make sense to me. I'd prefer to call it the unknown.

What IF (and it has been done in repeated experiments) coin flips tend to favor an observer wanting heads?What does that mean?

It means that the experimental methodology is likely flawed.

For example, (1) the effect is not significant (ie. too few flips), (2) the coin flipper is not blind to the observer, (3) the coin is biased (for that matter, hand-thrown coin flips are not independent; they are a Markov process) and the observer's choice of heads or tails is not randomized, or (4) my favorite, the whole experiment was repeated until the desired effect was observed (using just enough coin flips to yield statistical significance for only a single experiment), and the other experiments were not reported -- ie. if you want 95% confidence, just do the experiment 20 times and you'll expect to get the result you were looking for once.

Of course, my kneejerk response was: "What if experimental outcomes tend to favor a crackpot researcher's latest hypothesis? What does that mean?"

Just to go off topic:

Prayer does do things.

  1. Self programing/brainwashing.

  2. Those that watch you pray can be effected (in the same way that anything you do can effect someone who's watching you).

  3. In the sense that a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa leads to rain in Manhattan, Praying (the brain cells flickering) does have the effect of 'stirring the pot' of the physical world.

Awesome!

hahaha

She deserved this one...

Magnolia, exactly my point. *8)

I'm not an athiest nor am I a theist (I know that is a wierd one). I just think that there is evidence (that I agree is scant and odd and not repeatable most of th time) that the world is not as cut and dried as people think it is, and that some attributes of it are things people ascribe to a living god.

So, I don't think there is an agnry dude in the sky, but perhaps the world is... interactive? but heck, I don't know.

I'm still trying to figure out what I think about The Disclosure Project (bunch of seemingly trustworthy folks from skunkworks, nasa, army, air force, faa, saying they have seen direct evidence of alien visitation. Do a you tube search).

"It may indicate something subtle and eventually, provable about the universe however, which is certainly far more queer than my brain can possibly imagine."

Nah, I just think those Christians in Texas just wanted to molest some children. As for prayer, it has been scientifically proven that it doesn't do anything. Souls have been scientifically disproven, so has the Christian concept of hell. So why continue to believe in myths that people create just because they hold them in high regard?

Rep. Davis just shows the weakness in religious faith. If it is so dangerous that an Atheist mentions his ideas then religion is on such fragile foundations that a single phrase can cause it to collapse. That explains thousands of years of persecution of Atheists. No doubt the criticism of this "new atheism" is nothing more than a reminder to Atheists that they ought to shut up and know their place.

Splitting hair here...

As for prayer, it has been scientifically proven that it doesn't do anything.

I've seen studies that prove it does 'do' things. As in the same type of studies that prove meditation does things to the body and brain waves, etc... Really, every physical activity does something, and thoughts (re:prayer) are a physical activity. It just doesn't 'do' what most people praying want it to do.

Doug,

I agree with you. Most religion is custom anyhow. A lot of custom (don't eat pork, etc) is for making a 'better, healthier society', and works rather well at that (eat pork, and god hates you, is a good way to avoid explaining to a bunch of illiterate people the horror of tape worms). Much of the rest is some old guy that dislikes gays, or women and writes that X or Y must all be stoned.

My largest gripe with Christians is that they are ignorant of the history of thier own religion and 99% of the christians I ask have no idea what Jesus' name really was. Kinda important to know the real name of your "guy", ya think?

The worst aspect of religion can be seen in other human endavors... sports for instance. Go to a football match in england and see the Us vs Them mentality in action. Scary.

And while we know that this is a bad thing, we must also understand that it is very very human to be this way and that is served us well when we were hunters and gatherers and needed to rally the whole village to a cause.

Hopefully by understanding these bad human things exist OUTSIDE of religions, we can seperate the bahavior from the beliefs and shed light.

Of course, some atheists (not all!) are this way about their beliefs as well, and use a very basic understanding of science to back it up. Frankly, the deeper you delve into the more recent discoveries, the less cut and dried the universe seems to be.

[ex: Norm's recent post re: quantum mechanics perhaps not being so random was a breath of fresh air for many who enjoy a more logical world.]

But we are silly monkeys with VERY limited intellect, eyes less acute than an eagle, nose startlingly blind comparied to a bloodhound, ears that are nearly deaf. Most of our instruments are designed to heighten those most basic survival tools. The odds are that there is a type of creature that would find us and think of us as mere insects, searching a picnic blanket for crumbs, unable to see, let alone imagine, the Central Park and NYC that is their true reality.

My goal is to realize this limitation and try and imagine the city that likely exists.

Robinson,

If you do not consider yourself an atheist or a theist, would you consider yourself an agnostic?

Keith Olbermann has a lot of nerve calling anybody the "worst person." To suggest that someone be taken into a room and not come out (to beat them up, rape them or kill them), as Keith did with Hillary Clinton, metaphorically or not, shows a little religion of the type Rep. Davis espouses might actually save your soul from eternal damnation Keith. And, maybe all Rep. Davis has to do to be vindicated from her statement is to say-- gee, I'm sorry --I only meant it metaphorically.

metaphorically or not

No one is suggesting he meant it literally. That is silly.

Here is what he actually said:

Said Olbermann: "Right. Somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out."

Which is clearly a butchered version of "Lock them both in a room until.." we have a decision. His error was worthy of an apology. Suggesting he meant rape is disgusting on your part.

a little religion of the type Rep. Davis espouses might actually save your soul from eternal damnation Keith

Only thing her religion will save anybody from is the burden of having liberties and the burden of having to think for themselves.

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