Scott Adams Can’t See the Elephant

In the past, I've mocked the privileged obliviousness of Scott Adams, Dilbert cartoonist and Man Who Knows One Thing. I have to revisit Adams, because in this election, he's come out of the closet as a Donald Trump fan.As Ben Dolnick hilariously outlines, this makes sense because they're kindred spirits in many ways. Like Trump, Adams has a pronounced narcissistic streak and an extremely high regard for his own talents. (Remember the sockpuppet incident?) He also shares Trump's belief that … [Read more...]

Ten Reasons Why Donald Trump Is Unfit to Be President

I've written about why Donald Trump won't be elected president, but I haven't spent as much time on the reasons why he shouldn't be elected.In part, this is because it's almost too hard to keep track! Scandals that, individually, would fell any other campaign, pile up so quickly with Trump that they blur together and their impact is lost. Besides, Trump's most devoted followers don't care what the truth is, either because they're enthusiastic for his message of white supremacy and … [Read more...]

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The Rising Tide of Republican Extremism

Last week, in a failed last-minute bid to prove himself bigoted enough to be Donald Trump's running mate, Newt Gingrich said this:.@newtgingrich: "We should...test every person here who is of a Muslim background, & if they believe in shariah they should be deported."— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 15, 2016This isn't just unconstitutional, it's anti-constitutional. The idea of a religious test for American citizens, used for expelling those whose views are deemed … [Read more...]

No Place for Racism in the Atheist Community

I wish I didn't have to write posts like this, but they're still sadly necessary.Recently, my Patheos colleague Martin Hughes at Barrier Breaker had an interaction with an unpleasant fellow who calls himself "The Amazing Atheist". TAA is the archetype of the smugly arrogant white-guy atheist who thinks that because he's seen through this whole religion thing, he doesn't ever need to learn anything else.His perspective reflects all the toxic ignorance and casual cruelty you'd expect from … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Orlando Shooting

If I wrote about every mass shooting in gun-sick America, I wouldn't have time for anything else. But the bloodbath at a gay nightclub in Florida this weekend, now the deadliest in U.S. history, has a grim power to break through the scar tissue of our indifference.The NRA and right-wing Christianity in this country are locked in a vampiric embrace, each feeding on the other. There's no better proof of that than lawmakers who sold their souls for NRA blood money trying to cloak their … [Read more...]

The Church of Not Gay

In the riot of awful laws coming out of Republican-controlled statehouses, Mississippi's HB1523 may or may not be the worst. It has a lot of competition for that title. But I'd argue that out of all these bills, it's the one that gives the clearest insight into the motives of its supporters.The law's obligatory Orwellian name is the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act". It claims to shield people from state interference or punishment for following their … [Read more...]

Maryam Namazie Vs. Sam Harris

Since I believe it's important to resist anti-Muslim prejudice in the secular community, I was pleased to hear that Maryam Namazie, the ex-Muslim atheist and international human rights campaigner, was on Sam Harris' podcast. While I agree with Harris on some things, I've often criticized his views on Islam - especially his indefensible beliefs about profiling - and I was hoping she'd give him a dose of perspective. In this post, I want to analyze their exchange and offer my thoughts on … [Read more...]

How Donald Trump Won Over the Religious Right

So, it's time we talked about Donald Trump.The improbable presidential candidate has been flying high since his speech at Liberty University, where he was warmly welcomed by president Jerry Falwell Jr. The speech itself was underwhelming: he flubbed a biblical reference, cracked off-color jokes and made his pandering laughably obvious. Yet none of it seems to matter. The Liberty audience cheered and praised him. Among evangelicals, he's beating his closest rival, Ted Cruz, by 42% to … [Read more...]

Sam Harris’ Indefensible Views on Racial Profiling

As PZ brought to my attention, Sam Harris is still arguing for racially profiling airline passengers. His argument in the video is that security is a "zero-sum game", that our screeners have limited time and resources, and so they should focus on the people whom we know are more likely to be terrorists, by which he means Islamist fundamentalists (he never considers any other kind of terrorism).The fullest expression of Harris' views is in a 2012 article on his blog, "In Defense of … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 30

• Oliver Sacks has died. In his final column, "Sabbath", he talks about his humanism and his rejection of his Jewish upbringing when his mother discovered he was gay and was violently hateful towards him: "her harsh words made me hate religion's capacity for bigotry and cruelty".In his closing words, he contemplates the end with acceptance and peace:And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the … [Read more...]