Sunday, November 28, 2010

This is embarrassing

This afternoon I was over at reading about Sylvia Browne, psychic fraud. My mom used to love Sylvia, and thought she was the end-all-be-all psychic. This was back in the 1990s, after I had realized there were no gods, but before I'd given up completely on the paranormal. In fact, at the time, I was kind of into that John Edward show. He was (is?) better at it than she is, btw. At least he sounds sincere and doesn't come across as an asshole. So maybe I should just say that he's not mean like she is. But anyway.

So I was at that site, and I was reading all the accounts of e-mails, video transcripts, and failed predictions. And I decided that it would take me a lot less time to just go watch them on YouTube. You know what? I got to this one (yes, I also watched parts 1-3) and I couldn't watch any longer. This is just embarrassing to watch. It made me feel like I was watching a con man swindle an elderly person out of her/his life savings.

YouTube - Montel's final show with Sylvia Browne (Part 4)

I left as comment, which is awaiting moderation and in all likelihood will never be posted. But here it is:
That was embarrassing. I'm more psychic than she is. "Oh, yes. He's around you." "Yes, They're together." "Oh, it's terrible when we lose a child." Give me a break.
That pretty much sums up what Sylvia told this grieving mother. Her twelve year old son, Daniel, had been hit by a car. Daniel's mother asked if he was around her, if he was ok, and if he needed to tell her anything. Now seriously, what is Sylvia going to say to that? No, he's not?? Of course she's going to say he's ok, he's with God, blah, blah. Then Daniel's mother asked about her sister. Sylvia told her to be more specific. So she said that her sister had died, and that she had adored Daniel. Again, what else is Sylvia going to say? She agreed that, yes, her sister had loved Daniel, and that they were together. Oh, and we're all going to be together one day. But it takes so long my sweet Lord, right? She totally sounded like that George Harrison song. (No offense to George, who was completely awesome and underrated.) The rest of Sylvia's crap was her talking about how terrible it is to lose a child. Well no shit, Sherlock. And then Montel, who was at least trying to be helpful, gave her some talk-show-host pseudo therapy about how she needs to try and move on so she doesn't get sucked into depression (too late). And Sylvia started telling her how how grief is selfish, because the dead person is in happy lala god land, but we want them with us. FFS. What part of any of that is the least bit psychic?

But at least this woman seemed comforted. If you watch some of the other videos of her on YouTube, they're not so comforting. I really hurt for the woman whose boyfriend died and was never found. Old "psychic" Sylvia tells her, oh, he's in water. It's like that girl missing in Aruba. The guy was FDNY and died in the WTC on 9/11. Then there were the parents whose teenage daughter died. They wanted to know how she died. Sylvia said she was shot. No, the girl dropped dead in her bedroom, but the autopsy didn't find any cause. Or the girl who was abducted from hr front yard. Sylvia said she had been, I kid you not, sold into white slavery in Japan. They found the girl's body eventually. She was already dead when Sylvia gave her prediction, and she had never left Texas. That was a disgusting one. She also told Shawn Hornbeck's parents that he was dead, and gave directions to his body. Well gee, that kid was finally rescued after years, and he is still alive. What if she said that to police in a missing persons case and they stopped looking?

Oh, and apparently if you speak out against Sylvia loudly enough, she'll try to dig up dirt on you. So yeah. Whatever. Try it, honey. Maybe I should really piss her off and milk the publicity so I can afford a car. LOL.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Point of Prayer?

A recent issue of Reader's Digest has a feature story (book excerpt?) about General Hugh Shelton who fell in his yard, and was initially told he would never walk again or even move his arms. Not far into the story, he gets all feel goody about how he prayed that if God would just give him a chance, something to work with, then he would give his all. And since it appears that he did indeed walk again, the implication is that his god answered his prayers. I'm sure that's what most people who read that story will take away from it. But what I'm taking away is that in that case, it means that his god hated Chris Reeve. Because let's face it. The whole world of movie-watching, Christian praying people prayed for Chris Reeve.

Don't get me wrong. I'm really glad that General Shelton managed to walk again. But I would totally have thrown him under the bus to see Superman get out of the wheelchair. In fact, that would have been a nice miracle for a god who wants people to believe and to worship him. The followers pray, and the insanely famous paraplegic gets up and walks. That would be a pretty conclusive miracle, especially if he'd sent some priest/pastor/minister or whatever as a miracle-conduit.  But no. What happens to Chris Reeve? He fights like hell for ten years, and then just dies. And within months, his non-smoker wife dies of lung cancer, orphaning their son. This is not showing me any evidence of a god who gave a crap that all those people were praying for him and his family.

Now is the time that apologists would get all "oh, well, it wasn't in God's plan." Oh, ok. So even though the whole world was asking, their god won't change his plan. Except for the General, whose initial diagnosis in the emergency room was likely from a doctor who wanted to prepare him for a worst case scenario. The rest of the doctors seem to have been less certain, because no one else ever said that to him, AFAICT. So this guy had a huge challenge, and he might well have spent the rest of his life in that chair. But it wasn't any kind of miracle that he healed and regained mobility. It was an experimental procedure, some great doctors and therapists at Walter Reed, and a whole lot of hard work on his part. Anyway, if this god won't change his plans no matter how many people ask, then what is the point in praying? It must have been his plan for the General to walk again, right? In fact, what was the point of him even trying hard? If it was part of his god's plan that he should walk again, couldn't he have just sat there watching TV and it would have happened anyway? For that matter, what is the point of anything if some god is just up there planning everything? And how the hell is that supposed to mesh with this "free will" thing he's supposed to have going on? Because if I can change the plan, shouldn't the god be able to change it? And if I can't, where's my free will?

Anyway, it seems to me that if the whole world can't pray Chris Reeve out of the chair, or even keep him alive long enough for technology to get him out, then one desperate Dear God letter isn't going to do anything. Furthermore, if the dude that created the universe really gave a crap about either of them, wouldn't he have kept Chris on the horse, and kept Gen. Shelton on the ladder in the tree? Or is that beyond him? I just... the more I think about it, the less sense religion makes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Late-Term Abortions: Q&A With the Last Remaining Doctor Who Performs Them – TIME Healthland

Late-Term Abortions: Q&A With the Last Remaining Doctor Who Performs Them – TIME Healthland

I thought this was pretty scary, actually. There's one guy left doing these, and three weeks after Dr. Tiller was gunned down, he's getting death threats against his family?? Pro-life, my ass. More like pro-forced-birth. These are the things I think of when I hear that Christianity is non-violent/different from Islam or whatever. Sorry, kids. Your crazies murder people, too. And they're just as proud of it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bill Nye -- 2010 Humanist of the Year

Bill Nye’s speech in acceptance of the 2010 Humanist of the Year Award

So I just read this speech. Tweeted the link. Bill Nye's awesome points went up by one. The speech is full of good bits, but among my favorites is one from the Q&A afterward:

It gets me when people ask, why are you guys doing that? Why are you sending a mission to Pluto? What are you going to find? We don’t know—that’s why we’re going!

Nice. When I hear people asking why, I always think "well, because we finally figured out how." I mean, why wouldn't we? It makes me sad when people don't get how important pure science is -- especially space exploration. If we don't get this climate change thing under control, or if we run out of room, or if an asteroid or something is coming for us, we'd better not all be on the same rock. For real. We're getting a near miss in April of 2029 and again in April of 2036 from one particular asteroid, named Apophis. (Stargate fans, of course, are used to the Earth being threatened by Apophis.)

Anyway, yeah. go read Bill's speech. And revel in the knowledge that some scientists are also famous, beloved television personalities.