Harry Potter 7 Isn’t Even Out Yet…

According to the School Library Journal:

The [South Carolina] Pickens County Library System’s half-hour summer programs for middle and high school students were supposed to take a light-hearted look at the topics “Secrets and Spies: How to Keep a Secret by Writing in Code or Making Invisible Ink” and “What’s Your Sign?” Another program was to examine astrology, palmistry, and numerology; and others were to feature tarot cards, tie-dying t-shirts, how to make a Zen garden, and yoga.

How do you respond to this?

The correct answer: These are middle and high schoolers! They’re young adults. You would think a library would offer programs and books with some intellectual merit instead of dumbing them down with this crap!

No one said that, though.

Instead, the library got threats. 20-30 anonymous phone calls and additional threatening emails. The callers said things like, “We’re going to get you.”

All the emails (and, by extension, the phone calls) supposedly came from the congregants of one Baptist church.

The threateners said the astrology program was “witchcraft,” the Zen and yoga programs promoted “other religions,” the invisible ink was the “handiwork of Satan,” and the tie-dying t-shirts promoted “hippie culture and drug use.”

(I made one of those things up. Guess which one.)

Because of the threats, the summer programs were cancelled.

I’m sure the teenagers will go to church with their newfound summer free time.

(via Anecdotes and Confessions)


[tags]atheist, atheism, School Library Journal, South Carolina, Pickens County Library System, astrology, palmistry, numerology, tarot cards, Zen, yoga, Baptist, Christian, witchcraft, Satan[/tags]

  • http://starseyer.blogspot.com Mikel

    I’ll guess that you made up the bit about invisible ink being ‘the handiwork of satan’.

    But it’s really hard to be sure. Ya never know what these people will come up with.

  • Primate

    I think its time Astrologers everywhere started calling Churches and demand that they stop teaching “Christcraft.”

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    The threateners said the astrology program was “witchcraft,” the Zen and yoga programs promoted “other religions,” the invisible ink was the “handiwork of Satan,” and the tie-dying t-shirts promoted “hippie culture and drug use.”

    You sure they weren’t from CSICOP?

    I long for a time when people used to stop meddling in other peoples’ beliefs. The late 60s and even into the 70s before the fundamentalists, religious and of the CSICOP variety started to dominate things.

  • Miko

    You would think a library would offer programs and books with some intellectual merit instead of dumbing them down with this crap!

    So some of them are obviously silly, but cryptography has mathematical merit, invisible ink has scientific merit, and yoga has health benefits. (With the caveat, “if taught correctly” on each.) And I’m not sure exactly what a Zen garden is, but that sounds like it’s pretty much just a cultural thing.

    Instead, the library got threats. 20-30 anonymous phone calls and additional threatening emails. The callers said things like, “We’re going to get you.”

    “How dare you ‘teach’ children about astrology or palmistry; they should be in Sunday school instead.”

  • Jen

    Hey, at least they are reading, right? “Reluctant readers” are supposed to be bribed with whatever tshirts and Satan-y ink they can find. There are supposed to be books after the ink, right?

  • Richard Wade

    The “threateners” is probably just one person, some paranoid closely resembling Marguerite Perrin, the infamous “Crazy Woman on Trading Spouses,” acting without anyone else’s knowledge. It’s too bad the Pickens Library System caved in to one fruitcake. I guess crazy people have more clout in rural South Carolina. Now that wingnut feels powerful and important, and may start doing more fruitcakery and wingnuttery.

    The theme and activities do seem a little juvenile for middle and high school, but maybe the librarians know what local kids will respond to in the summer. Often libraries get funding for programs that are supposed to be for young adults but they know that only grade schoolers will show up. So they cater to the clientele.

  • Richard Wade

    Whoops, I just read the School Library Journal article and it says there are apparently more than one perpetrator. Oh well, so much for my screwball profiling skills. Now we have to look askance at the local Baptist Church as a whole. Too bad, that means things may be worse in that area.

  • Steelman

    olvlzl said: “I long for a time when people used to stop meddling in other peoples’ beliefs. The late 60s and even into the 70s before the fundamentalists, religious and of the CSICOP variety started to dominate things.”

    Weren’t the fundamentalists busily burning books and Beatles records during that “golden age”? And of course, no one was challenging people’s religious beliefs during the civil rights movement. :)

    What is it you’re objecting to with your CSICOP reference, exactly? That the library should be left alone if it wants to teach astrology, palmistry and numerology? Personally, I’d have to know the context in which those subjects were being presented before I took a stand on the issue. If they were being taught as effective practices for gaining knowledge, then I’d find that as objectionable as teaching Lamarckism in life sciences, or Lysenkoism at Future Farmers of America meetings.

  • http://www.kellanstec.com Kellan

    The threateners said the astrology program was “witchcraft,” the Zen and yoga programs promoted “other religions,” the invisible ink was the “handiwork of Satan,” and the tie-dying t-shirts promoted “hippie culture and drug use.”

    (I made one of those things up. Guess which one.)

    I’ll call Poe’s Law on that one.

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    It is true though that something like “Secrets and Spies: How to Keep a Secret by Writing in Code or Making Invisible Ink” is actually interesting … teaching kids how to write in code forces them to think mathematically, even if they don’t realize it, and learning things like “invisible ink” (e.g., lemon juice) is really a lesson in chemistry.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Steelman, the period I remember with fondness wasn’t a perfect golden age but it was possible to believe in all manner of things, the only rule being that no one was hurt by it. That got lost as the 70s progressed.

    Now I’m glad you asked what I meant by the CSICOP reference. It’s interesting to me that the same people who rightly get into a swivet when fundamentalist “christians” try to ban books and suppress information but the long, aggressive and equally fanatical efforts of Paul Kurtz and the rest of the CSICOP crew to do exactly the same thing is not only accepted but approved. They have probably had more success in suppressing ideas and even scientific research that falls on its Index of Prohibited Ideas. I’m not sure if they’ve gone after Harry Potter but it would be in keeping with the rest of their neo-Stalinist activities. I’ve been doing a bit of research about the various groups involved, including the various manifestations of “humanism” that fell under the thumb of Kurtz and his unspiritual father, Corliss Lamont. It’s not pretty.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Oh, and Steelman, that list in your comment, you drew that up, not me. I have never endorsed any of them. To bring them up in relation to what I said is dishonest.

    Where in the United States, or anywhere else do you find Lysenkoism being taught. Actually, since during the period when it flourished in the Soviet Union Corliss Lamont was one of the biggest promoters of Stalinism in the United States, I wonder if he ever expressed an opinion about it. It would be interesting to know.

  • http://www.matsonwaggs.wordpress.com Kelly

    Our local library is running a similar themed program for the summer-it’s supposed to be based on themes of secret agents, spies, breaking codes, mysteries, etc. So most of that stuff makes sense-how yoga, tie dyed shirts, and a Zen garden tie into that I do no know.
    I still just don’t comprehend wanting to shelter your children so much, and I never will.

  • Steelman

    olvlzl said: “Steelman, the period I remember with fondness wasn’t a perfect golden age but it was possible to believe in all manner of things, the only rule being that no one was hurt by it.”

    Considering the wide diversity of subcultures in the U.S., and the laws that protect beliefs as well as speech, it appears the freedom to “believe in all manner of things” is still intact. I don’t, however, think anyone has a right to not have their beliefs challenged, especially if they are using publicly funded programs to teach them to young people. My tax dollars are spent on a dizzying array of things, sometimes quite wastefully, and I have a right to have my say (legally, and in a civilized manner) about those expenditures. It’s my money.

    olvlz said: “They [CSICOP] have probably had more success in suppressing ideas and even scientific research that falls on its Index of Prohibited Ideas. I’m not sure if they’ve gone after Harry Potter but it would be in keeping with the rest of their neo-Stalinist activities.”

    I think this is taking us a bit off topic, and I’ve got a feeling you’re a bit over the top about all of this (saying CSICOP would probably go after Harry Potter seems silly to me). However, I want to be fair. So, if you have a blog entry that details the results of your research into CSICOP, I would be interested in reading it.

    olvlzl said: “Oh, and Steelman, that list in your comment, you drew that up, not me. I have never endorsed any of them. To bring them up in relation to what I said is dishonest.”

    You were lamenting how some people interfere in other people’s beliefs. You did this in response to an article about local opposition to a library’s reading program that included the items of pseudoscience and fortunetelling that I named. I agree that people should be allowed to believe what they want, but I disagree with them teaching it to kids as true using public money. I never said you endorsed those things. I did, however, question what seemed to be your lassize-faire attitude of giving tacit approval to the situation (hence the question mark ending that list).

    I should say here that if the attitude of it being a “light-hearted look at the topics”, which was applied to the invisible ink and what’s your sign series, was also applied to the list I found objectionable, then I would be fine with it. This is what I said in my earlier comment. As written, the second list was called “another program.”

    olvlzl said: “Where in the United States, or anywhere else do you find Lysenkoism being taught. Actually, since during the period when it flourished in the Soviet Union Corliss Lamont was one of the biggest promoters of Stalinism in the United States, I wonder if he ever expressed an opinion about it. It would be interesting to know.”

    Neither Lysenkoism, nor Lamarckism, are being taught in any publicly (or privately) funded program that I’m aware of. I brought them up as an (obvious, I thought) analogy of the nature and level of objectionableness to teaching pseudoscience and superstition to school children as fact. Remarkably, you managed to somehow redirect that comparison back into your seeming equivocation of Stalinism and CSICOP. Someone is on a mission here…

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    I think you mean “equation of Stalinism and CSICOP” . Look into the backgrounds of Paul Kurtz and his mentor Corliss Lamont, I think you’ll find that the gap isn’t very big at all. And I’m still curious to know how Corliss Lamont squared his support of Stalin, very late into the revelations of his crimes and while Lysenkoism was in full flower with his alleged “humanism”. It’s not that easy to find information about him, it seems to have been rather effectively swept under the rug.

    If you think I’m over the top about CSICOP you clearly haven’t been a long time reader of their propaganda, as I have. It would be very much in line with their activities to go after Harry Potter, they’ve gone after other novels they accuse of promoting parascience. As I’ve mentioned here before the only “scientific investigation” they ever did was the disastrous farce “sTARBABY”, in which some of their more illustrious members proved that they were fully ready to lie and distort to cover up the fact that they couldn’t even come up with a competent challenge to astrology. Read the account by Dennis Rawlins, it’s available online. CSICOP is a fraud whose intent is to suppress free thought, not promote science.

  • http://starseyer.blogspot.com Mikel

    to olvlzl:
    I am not real familiar with CSICOP, but I am familiar with the ‘propaganda’ of the Center for Inquiry, with which CSICOP is affiliated. I am a subscriber and regular reader of their magazine ‘Free Inquiry’. I am also a fan of the Harry Potter series and am patiently awaiting the arrival of my pre-ordered HP7.

    So, I am finding a really difficult time in taking you seriously in any claims that it would be consistent for the Center for Inquiry to try to squelch the reading of Harry Potter. They don’t appear to me to have too much trouble telling fact from fictional entertainment. I tend to agree with steelman: “someone is on a mission here.”

    As far as the stuff being taught in the library is concerned–I think invisible ink and cryptology are fascinating, and I think there is nothing wrong with yoga as such and that Zen gardens are pretty cool actually. As for the others, numerology and such, I’m not so sure–I’d still hold judgment until I know exactly what they are telling the kids.

    Edit:
    Oh, speaking of Harry Potter:
    http://www.csicop.org/doubtandabout/harrypotter/

  • Steelman

    olvlzl said: “I think you mean “equation of Stalinism and CSICOP” . Look into the backgrounds of Paul Kurtz and his mentor Corliss Lamont, I think you’ll find that the gap isn’t very big at all.” And I’m still curious to know how Corliss Lamont squared his support of Stalin, very late into the revelations of his crimes and while Lysenkoism was in full flower with his alleged “humanism”. It’s not that easy to find information about him, it seems to have been rather effectively swept under the rug.”

    Yes, I meant equation not equivocation.
    Corliss Lamont’s opposition to McCarthyism is laudable. His disbelief of Stalin’s atrocities in the face of positive evidence isn’t. Far from being swept under the rug, articles about Lamont’s politics (the good and the horribly misguided) seemed easy to find via a quick Google.
    From what I’ve read Paul Kurtz appreciated and promoted Lamont’s humanist ideals, but rejected his communist politics. I don’t see any idealogical or methodolgical connection whatsoever between CSICOP and Stalinism. This seems like guilt by association.

    olvlzl said: “If you think I’m over the top about CSICOP you clearly haven’t been a long time reader of their propaganda, as I have. It would be very much in line with their activities to go after Harry Potter, they’ve gone after other novels they accuse of promoting parascience.”

    Mikel already provided a link that answers the Harry Potter question in the negative. I’d be interested to see any links you might have about CSICOP going after other novels.

    olvlzl said: “As I’ve mentioned here before the only “scientific investigation” they ever did was the disastrous farce “sTARBABY”, in which some of their more illustrious members proved that they were fully ready to lie and distort to cover up the fact that they couldn’t even come up with a competent challenge to astrology. Read the account by Dennis Rawlins, it’s available online. CSICOP is a fraud whose intent is to suppress free thought, not promote science.”

    Here’s a brief article on the Mars Effect. The links at the bottom are to articles by those involved that talk about the various studies in depth, including comments that don’t always put CSICOP in the best light. I think that honesty, rigor, and a lack of bias (among other things) are necessities in the scientific investigation of any subject. I’m not sure those necessities were maintained by either side in the investigation of the Mars Effect.

    I don’t think this controversy negates the positive effects of the debunking of paranormal claims that CSICOP has done before or since. Of course, CSICOP’S scientific findings should be up for review the same as any other organization’s. I don’t know how good a job they’ve done on every single investigation, or if they’ve always chosen their targets well, but I haven’t seen anything that indicates they’re the reincarnation of the Evil Empire.

  • monkeymind

    On the other hand, olvzl, Steelman could be one of their agents. Steelman = man of steel = Stalin. Think about it. It’s all a conspiracy!

    Seriously, a lot of intellectuals were Communists in the 1930′s. Go ahead and blacklist them if you want, but I think it’s been done. Maybe this Lamont guy should have denounced Stalin earlier, but one of my favorite authors, Jessica Mitford, was a commie until late in the ’50′s so I’d be willing to cut him some slack.

  • Darryl

    Anyone preoccupied with old things is either a specialist in the old, or is old. To the latter I say, “Either get with the program or retire.”

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Ah, Steelman, Corliss Lamont opposed McCarthy, well, big deal. He was a propagandist for Stalin, what did you expect, that he’d cheer him on? There were a lot of people who opposed McCarthy who didn’t have an enormous fortune, who lost everything they had and who didn’t use their money to make McCarthy style attacks on other people. The activities of the “Humanists” after he took control were little more than McCarthyism of another sort. Literally no charge has been too unsupported for them to make against those who transgress their Index of Prohibited Ideas.

    I can understand why you would want people to be deflected from reading Dennis Rawlins account to “sTARBABY”, as the only competent person working on the CSICOP challenge, the one who first found out that the challenge was so incompetently designed that it would end up supporting the position of Gauquelin, much to the humiliation of Kurtz and his lackies. He wrote an honest account of both the incompetence of the CSICOP clique and the dishonest means they’d go to to cover themselves.

    Debunkery of the sort you champion, if it was taken as a valid means of scientific disproof would probably effectively destroy the majority of experimental science. There are few effects that couldn’t be faked by a determined person with sufficient knowledge. Psychology, the field of many of the CSICOPS (those who aren’t professional entertainers and other show biz names that constitute the CSICOP glamour) would be destroyed if it was subjected to Randian style debunkery.

    Yes, I am going to continue my researches into Corliss Lamont and Paul Kurtz, it’s hard going but there’s so much interesting material that sheds light on so much of the present day pop-atheism and “skepticism”.

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    If CSI/CSICOP had a mission of trying to suppress ideas, they’re incompetent at it.

    In the “Mars effect” controversy, they did try to paper over some of their own errors with post hoc rationalization when the Zelen Test didn’t come out the way they expected, but they gave Dennis Rawlins several pages of unedited space to reply in the _Skeptical Inquirer_, and ultimately admitted their errors in the Zelen Test, as well as giving further space to Suitbert Ertel’s re-analysis of the U.S. sports champion test.

    There were definitely some screwups by CSICOP leaders, and they’ve had others since then. But none of that makes a case that they seek or succeed in suppressing information. If anything, when the _Skeptical Inquirer_ publishes a critique of an idea, it makes that idea better known than it was before.

    BTW, I think it’s a mistake to equate Paul Kurtz’s politics with Corliss Lamont’s. I believe Kurtz is a liberal with something of a libertarian streak, not a socialist.

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    BTW, the Zelen Test wasn’t incompetently designed, it was a perfectly adequate test to see if the “Mars effect” in Gauquelin’s data was caused by nychthemeral rhythms (clusters in birth times as a result of night/day cycles), which is what Zelen, Kurtz, Abell, and the Belgian Comite Para incorrectly believed. The Zelen Test results showed that this wasn’t the cause, and the Zelen, Kurtz, Abell response, rather than conceding that their hypothesis had been refuted, engaged in post hoc sample splitting to try to weasel out of that conclusion. Rawlins’ position was always that the Gauquelin data set itself was plagued with selection bias, which the CFEPP re-analysis confirmed to be the case. The CSICOP U.S. test was a fresh test with new data, which didn’t show a Mars effect (except in Suitbert Ertel’s reanalysis, which showed an “eminence effect”; statistician Jan Willem Nienhuys argues otherwise).

    Rawlins did accuse–with some foundation–Abell (an astronomer) and Kurtz (a philosopher) of incompetence regarding statistics. I don’t remember him making that a charge against Zelen (a statistician)–he just thought Zelen was a fool for not giving credence to the possibility of Gauquelin’s data being bad, and putting too much confidence in the Zelen Test as a means of refuting Gauquelin once and for all. Rawlins was certainly right about that, though I don’t think there’s a good case for Gauquelin’s effects today, after the CFEPP response.

  • Pingback: A whirlwind weekend! — Flowers,gardens.seeds


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X