The Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense

Coming off of his last viral hit, Crispian Jago has updated and re-released one of his classic graphics, the Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense:

You’re gonna want to click on that image, zoom in, and look around. It’s amazing how many crazy things some people can believe…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Pluto Animus

    Endless bullshit, most hideous….

    • Pseudonym

      Ah, but if you put it in a periodic table, it instantly becomes science!

      I noticed a couple of clangers in it. The entry for “spontaneous human combustion”, for example, is quite uncharitable, given that it was a wrong explanation for a very real and (until quite recently) very puzzling phenomenon.

  • JohnH

    Did you just have something up about a religious person calling an atheist a fool suggesting that person be rebuked for his actions.

    So should you be rebuked for this post or is this special pleading because you think you are correct while the representative is wrong?

    • glenmorangie10

      More accurately, he posted about a politician in a position of power creating a piece of legislation that could potentially harm children, then calling a specific child a fool through scripture quotes when he learned of the possibility that she could suffer actual harm. He is a man with power, and a concomitant duty to use that power responsibly in the interests of the people he is supposed to serve. He used that power to insult and bully a young girl who appealed to him for help.

      Bravo to you though. You have really nailed Hemant for the identical behaviour. Because mocking beliefs of those who may choose to read a blog, by a blogger who is a self-professed atheist and skeptic and has no reason to expect anyone to be harmed by his writing, is exactly the same as a politician insulting a child directly and ignoring the duty he owes her.

      • JohnH

        So it is a case of special pleading, just not due to correctness necessarily. Free speech for Hemant but not for a politician.

        • Pattrsn

          I’m confused has the politician been prevented from speaking?

          • JohnH

            Pattrsn,

            Hemant wants the politician to be rebuked for his email. The person that he referenced scriptures to that imply that being an atheist is foolish was the mother of an 8 yr old; he never called anyone a fool directly and was not responding to an 8 yr old.

            • TheBlackCat13

              Again, where is anyone prevented from speaking? The legislature criticizing him is not the same thing as preventing him from speaking.

              He may not have been responding to the 8 year old, but he did say that those who don’t believe in God are fools, which would certainly include the 8 year old.

        • glenmorangie10

          Ah, the free speech line in the sand. Let me trot out the trite arguments, no less true for having been said again and again. Yes, a politician has free speech. Has anyone said he should be thrown in jail or face some other rebuke from government? Is anyone suggesting that congress should make a law abridging the freedom of speech of this one politician? However, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism. When we choose to criticize people for their speech, we examine the context of that speech. And yes, the speech of a politician does merit more intense scrutiny than that of a blogger because a politician has more power and more responsibility. A person who assumes public office knowingly and willingly takes on duties, and it is possible that those duties and his free speech may come in conflict. When he chooses speech over duty, we do not round him up and throw him in a gulag. But we can and should question whether he places greater value on his own expression than on the duties he has taken on as a public servant. And when speech is directed at a child, it merits more intense scrutiny because children are more vulnerable than adults.

          It is not a matter of the state rep being correct or incorrect. Calling an eight-year-old a fool is a terrible thing for any person to do. Calling an eight-year-old a fool in response to a plea for help, from someone he has a duty to represent, is a terrible thing for a state representative to do. Calling an eight-year-old a fool when confronted with the possibility that his own actions may be placing her in danger, is a terrible thing for a state representative to do. It is a terrible thing to do because of the context in which he did it, a context that is completely different from that in which Hemant writes.

          If you want to play the logical fallacy game, continue to chant “special pleading”. I will chant “false equivalence”, and we will see who wins.

        • Joe

          You’re creating a false equivalence. The politician directly called an 8-year old a fool, while this post is not calling anyone a fool. It is criticising beliefs by calling them irrational nonsense, but not calling the people who hold these beliefs fools directly.

          Do you see the difference between calling a person a fool and calling their beliefs foolish? Because that is the distinction here.

        • RobMcCune

          The politician is free to speak his mind, he’s just a scumbag for trying to crush dissent and bully eight year old children.

          If linking to someone else’s picture does either then please explain.

        • JohnH

          glenmorangie10,

          Hemant suggested that the politician face rebuke from the government, in fact that was his principle suggestion as to what should happen, perhaps you need to go read that post again so that you can argue intelligently.

          Also, the representative was responding to a “concerned mother” and not to an eight year old. That concerned mother wrote to the representative, one of the sponsors of the bill, and received an answer from said sponsor of the bill. Obviously, if we have the whole story, then the mother needs to keep the email and use it for supporting evidence to overturn the bill as the representatives response shows that the bill may in fact be an attempt at making a law respecting religion in its intent. Also, the Representative referenced scripture and did not himself call anyone a fool in his response, though that is certainly the implication of that scripture.

  • A3Kr0n

    The site is down. It must be experiencing the “Friendly Atheist Effect”. You know, like the Slashdot effect where mobs of curious views swamp the severs for awhile.

  • Pattrsn

    He’s forgotten the element Mr: the Men’s Rights Movement, The belief that the world is run by a secret cabal of feminists because of erm child support payments, and er …war.

    • Disastergirl

      This is a site where many people consider themselves rationalists, right? Therefore you will be able to recognise that what you just posted was a classic example of a strawman argument. That is not in fact what MRAs believe at all. MRAs acknowledge that women have many disadvantages in society but they want to raise awareness of the fact that men do too, often in different ways. Common areas of activism include raising awareness and supporting male victims of rape and abuse, raising awareness of high rates of male suicide, equality in child custody lawsuits and correcting the massive gender imbalance in prison sentences (ie, where a woman would get a dramatically reduced sentence for the same crime as a man). Many feminists have actively fought against any kind of discussion of these very legitimate problems (eg when Erin Pizzey, founder of the first women’s shelters tried to set up shelters for men she received death threats and her dog was killed, all by feminists) so it’s understandable why some MRAs are wary of the feminist movement, but none literally believe in any kind of feminist cabal and I’m pretty sure you know this. Many MRAs also consider themselves to be feminists and care about women’s issues and would gladly work with feminists to fight the restrictive gender roles that harm both genders. Sure, there are unpleasant extremists (as there are in the feminist movement) but the MRM is pretty good at self-policing and rejecting problematic individuals. I really don’t get why the idea of fighting for equality for both genders is so anathema to some people.

      • Pattrsn

        Well I only have the miserable whiners who post on websites like spearhead and a voice for men who invariably blame all their problems on women and especially feminists to go by.

        Every now and again I hear this crap about there being just a few crazies and most MRA’s are rational and reasonsble but they all end up on an anti feminist ragegasm.

        However I will revise my view when the makority of MRAs repudiate hate sites like spearhead.

        • smrnda

          I think the above is a troll, given that MRAs mostly unite in blaming feminism for everything wrong in the world, and this above characterization sounds like *nothing* any MRA identified individual or site has ever stated. Also, about all MRAs I’ve encountered don’t believe in equality and tend to support very traditional gender roles.

          • Disastergirl

            I am very definitely not a troll and if you’d bothered to look up the example I gave you, you’d find that it’s completely true. Your accusation and closed minded attitude is pretty insulting. Sure, there are some problematic MRAs, I didn’t deny that, just as there are many problematic feminists. But the vast majority of the MRAs I’ve ever seen were very reasonable people. Just because you haven’t seen them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Please have a look at Permutation of Ninjas on tumblr (permutationofninjas .tumblr. com) and GirlWritesWhat on YouTube. if you are interested I can recommend other blogs and send you resources about problems men face and ways in which certain feminists have deliberately tried to prevent discussion about them. I genuinely believe that if more people could have a rational discussion about this we would realise that we’re all on the same side. We’re all for equality ad, as an egalitarian, I really want to see better understanding and dialogue between feminists and MRAs.

            • Pattrsn

              I like how you go from some MRA’s are problematic to many feminists are problematic. What’s problematic is insisting that a recognized hate group is seeking equality.

              • Disastergirl

                Well, many feminists *are* problematic. This is an indisputable fact. Look up the SCUM manifesto written by Valerie Solanas (who insisted that it was completely serious, not satire, btw). She was never repudiated by the feminist movement. Same with Andrea Dworkin who claimed that all heterosexual sex was rape and that she wanted to ‘”see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” Not hate speech? Also Mary Daly who was a professor at Boston University, who hoped for a ‘decontamination’ of the planet that would result in a ‘drastic reduction’ of the male population. She also forbade male students from taking her classes. There are many other examples like this and many other non-famous feminists who hold very similar views. Many feminists consider themselves proud misandrists and ‘joke’ about killing or beating or mutilating men or fantasise about committing genocide against men. I’ve seen this, more times than I wish to say, and its disgusting and very disappointing.

                Now, let’s be clear, I’m NOT saying that all feminists are like that or that feminism itself as a movement is hateful or should be discarded. Feminism has done a lot of good and can continue to do so, I hope. What I’m trying to get across is that hateful individuals DO exist within the feminist movement, many of them in fact (although certainly not the majority), and that many of these hateful feminists have been leaders within the movement, publishing material that has been (and continues to be) read and studied around the world, given university positions and platforms with which to spread their message. Feminism as a movement has NOT done enough to unequivocally distance itself from these people and this very definitely is problematic. The fact that the MRM is considered in some places to be a hate group is frankly ridiculous and if they can be labelled as such by the actions and words of some problematic individuals then feminism definitely qualifies for the same label. That, of course, would be ridiculous, as we all know that a movement advocating for equality and the principles it stands for should never be completely discarded due to the problematic actions of certain extremists, right? Right?

                • Pattrsn

                  “This is an indisputable fact” only in your head.

                  This reminds me of the Hare Krishna temple I used to go to for free Indian food when I was a young punk. They would use the same expression too as though claiming something as a fact made it one.

                • Disastergirl

                  I have linked you to a blog that can provide accurate, reliable, evidence based information to back up why I have said, including academic studies and government data. If you are interested, I can provide the information in a more convenient format. You have given no legitimate reason to dismiss what I have said. Why don’t you at least examine the evidence before drawing your conclusions?

                • Pattrsn

                  OK DG I’ll check out your website. Hopefully it has more going for it than claiming that the insane rantings of an isolated mentally ill person 4 decades ago somehow invalidates feminism.

                • Disastergirl

                  Thank you. That’s all I ask. I appreciate your willingness to investigate. I recommend the resource pages linked at the side and if you are dissatisfied with that blog I can find more resources if you are still interested. I started off with a similar position to you, being completely in support of feminism and dismissive of the MRM (btw, I don’t consider myself an MRA, just so you know) but the more I learnt about the issues the more I found I could no longer hold that view. Here in the atheist community we know the importance of challenging assumptions and dearly held beliefs with an open and sceptical mind and maybe you’ll look at the information and be unconvinced but all I’m asking is you try and examine things from another point of view.

                  I don’t appreciate your attempt to dismiss several highly influential feminist writers and theorists as ‘an isolated mentally ill person’. Their writings have been published and continue to be published all around the world and taught in university classes in multiple different degrees and are still influential today. Moreover, many modern feminists hold similar views. Also, I didn’t ever say that their writings *invalidated* feminism, I think you;ll find I said the exact opposite. “Now, let’s be clear, I’m NOT saying that all feminists are like that or that feminism itself as a movement is hateful or should be discarded.” Is what I said, only a few comments ago. Please don’t misrepresent my words like that. All I was trying to say is that there do exist hateful individuals within the feminist movement and that many of them have been highly influential in shaping the theories and academic underpinnings of feminism and so cannot be completely ignored. I was trying to explain that there are legitimate reasons to criticise feminism (as there are with any movement, no movement is perfect as I’m sure you appreciate) and that feminists should acknowledge this; I was NOT saying that feminism as a whole is invalid.

                • Pattrsn

                  Andrea Dworkin was influential for a time but not much anymore. I rember even in the early 90′s even hardcore feminists were starting to reject her ideas, such as all an erection being an act of violence and all acts of penetration being rape. Hard to see Valerie Solanis as ever being influential, she was the isolated but job I was referring to. I remember in the 80′s she was a hit of a hero among the anarchist punk scene but mostly for her sheer weirdness. None of the hardcore feminists I knew, and I knew a lot as i usef to do solidarity work, had even heard of her, or her manifesto. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is being discussed though she part of the history of feminism and counterculture if only as an outlier, but if you’re going to claim her as an influential feminist then Marc Lepine is an influential MRA.

              • Disastergirl

                Also, forgot to say, it is undeniably true that there are certain issues that negatively impact men which have so far been ignored in modern Western society (such as high rates of male suicide, erasure and lack of support for male rape and domestic abuse victims, disproportionately high conviction rates for men compared to women when all other confounding factors are eliminated, the normalisation of male circumcision in many countries, lack of awareness for male health issues such as prostate cancer…) and the MRM is trying to raise awareness of these problems and do something about them. They are NOT trying to take away rights from women or oppress or silence women, they are simply trying to get recognition for problems that men suffer too. I really, really, don’t understand why people have a problem with this. We should be looking to fix the problems that EVERYONE in society suffers, not just one group.

                • Pattrsn

                  Again, the day the MRM stop blaming all their problems on women is the day they get to start being taken seriously.

                  And also they’ll have to stop claiming that problems people face based on race and class are actually due to gender.

                • Disastergirl

                  Most MRAs don’t actually blame women for their problems at all. They blame all of society, in the same way that reasonable feminists blame all of society for their problems, rather than just men. Both men and women make up society and both contribute to its problems. Also, many MRAs are female and MRAs come from all races, sexual orientations, gender identities and social classes. Did you have a look at the blog I referred you to? It’s an egalitarian blog run by egalitarians, MRAs *and* feminists so its as unbiased as can be. It should be able to provide you with more information on these issues and give you a better perspective on the MRM. Also, MRAs do acknowledge that racial and socioeconomic factors exacerbate these problems, but they do not explain them completely. Even when racial and socioeconomic factors are accounted for, men are still significantly disadvantaged when it comes to sentencing for crimes (if you like I can find you references for this) and issues such as the draft (which still exist within many countries and applies only to men in all but two) affect men of all races and social classes in those countries. The majority of MRAs recognise the importance of intersectionaliry in their movement and speak for men of all backgrounds, not just the most privileged. I would really like to have a reasoned discussion with you about this, but so far you seem to have ignored all the points I have raised and have provided no evidence to back up your assertions, or offered to provide any in the future. I had hoped that on a site such as this, people would be able to approach issues that go against what they believed with a little more open-mindedness and rationality. I respect feminists and always make an effort to truly understand their positions before deciding what I think of them, all I’m asking is that you do the same.

  • Tobias2772

    Too funny

  • flyb

    Missing polygraph/lie detection.


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