Pharyngula

Religion kills

So this young man, Dennis Lindberg, refused a blood transfusion and died. This was a completely useless, futile death; it wasn’t a sacrifice that helped someone, and it was avoidable by a routine medical procedure. So what could possibly have driven him to this behavior?

Earlier Wednesday, Skagit County Superior Court Judge John Meyer had denied a motion by the state to force the boy to have a blood transfusion. The judge said the eighth-grader knew “he’s basically giving himself a death sentence.”

“I don’t believe Dennis’ decision is the result of any coercion. He is mature and understands the consequences of his decision,” the judge said during the hearing.

“I don’t think Dennis is trying to commit suicide. This isn’t something Dennis just came upon, and he believes with the transfusion he would be unclean and unworthy.”

So he wasn’t coerced; he was mature and capable of rational thought; he wasn’t suicidal; this wasn’t an expensive treatment his family couldn’t afford; he did not make the world a better place by dying. He simply calmly decided on the basis of certain premises that were planted in his brain at an early age by an aunt who was a Jehovah’s Witness that he had to do something both lethal and stupid. His head was filled with garbage, and this is the end result.

Religion is child abuse. It strips kids of the critical reasoning abilities that can save their lives. His crazy aunt killed him as surely as if she had beat him to death with a baseball bat.

Comments

  1. #1 PalMD
    November 30, 2007

    The judge is an accessory to murder. An 8th friggin grader! You don’t let kids do stupid things. They are KIDS. They can be stupid when they grow up, but first they have to live to adulthood.

  2. #2 deviljelly
    November 30, 2007

    So basically the judge has ruled that euthanasia is legal in the US?

    How is this pro-life?

    the Judge is culpable and should be tried himself…. so are anorexics allowed to die also…. I bet there is a lot of legal precedence on this…

    The parent have just killed their own child, it is child abuse.

  3. #3 Guido
    November 30, 2007

    Children are allowed to die because religious motives but grown ups cannot get euthanasia if they wish so and whoever helps them goes to jail.

    The US is a really strange country.

  4. #4 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    “…He is mature and understands the consequences of his decision,” the judge said during the hearing.

    Bollocks. Complete, unmitigated bollocks. Had the kid said that he was refusing the transfusion because he believed he would survive without it, the judge would presumably not have considered this ‘understand[ing] the consequences of his decision.’

    That is precisely what happened. This child firmly believed that he would survive without the transfusion; just not in this world, but in a magical place where dying in a really stupid, pointless way is apparently considered a fucking virtue. Worse, he believed that he would suffer unimaginable torment for accepting the transfusion; this, apparently, is not ‘coercion.’ He was probably also aware of how JWs treat those who accept transfusions; the threat of communal shunning is apparently not coercive.

    What a senseless waste.

  5. #5 Peter Ashby
    November 30, 2007

    Here in the UK this would not have happened, all kids in this situation get made wards of court for the duration of their treatment and it is perfectly routine. Doctors who do not do this would likely be up before the General Medical Council faster than they could think.

    The matter is very simple, unless and until he is reaches the legal age of consent a responsible adult with his best interests at heart will take these decisions for him. In the absence of a responsible adult, and JW’s do not qualify on this point, the court will act for him. Once he reaches the legal age of consent he can commit medical suicide if he wants but not before. End of discussion.

  6. #6 Shap
    November 30, 2007

    “They can be stupid when they grow up, but first they have to live to adulthood.”

    At least by not making it to adulthood, he’s not able to take anyone with him. OK – that was a little low. Clearly he is brainwashed, though.

    Maybe the good that comes of this is that it showcases religious fanatacism in its ugliest form, and probably makes people queasy.

  7. #7 peak_bagger
    November 30, 2007

    It’s sad that Lindberg chose to die and for reasons that meant much to him but don’t make sense to reasonable people. But:

    Religion is child abuse. It strips kids of the critical reasoning abilities that can save their lives.

    You are over generalizing.

  8. #8 Rory
    November 30, 2007

    I’m struggling with the child abuse idea. It seems that you’re saying the boy is without blame because he was indoctrinated by his aunt. But surely the aunt is then without blame because she was presumably indoctrinated by someone else. Of course you’ll argue that being an adult she should know better, but where does this idea come from? There’s a huge amount of evidence that the majority of adults don’t know better and just follow along with their parents’ beliefs throughout their lives. Religion as a virus makes much more sense than religion as child abuse.

  9. #9 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    I’m struggling with the child abuse idea.

    When child abuse is mentioned, people generally think of acts committed with malicious intent. That’s not universally accurate. Every now and then there’s a case of, say, an exorcism gone wrong in which a child died. In such cases everyone involved firmly believed that what they were doing was right, but it’s child abuse nonetheless. This case is not so very different from those.

  10. #10 Nan
    November 30, 2007

    You know, you’re right about how evil religion can be, and I’m going to agree that the young man may have come to his decision from the wrong direction — but the article says that with additional chemotherapy and transfusions his life might have been prolonged by five years. I find it equally plausible that the religion gave him an excuse to give up. Granted, the information provided in the article is thin, I do find it hard to believe the doctors would be saying the kid would barely make it to voting age anyway, but to me it looks more like effect of transfusing would have been to prolong dying, not save his life.

    Which brings up another question — if you’re a theist, you can always invoke a Higher Power as an excuse to reject treatments you don’t want or don’t think are going to help. How easy (or hard) is it for an atheist to reject treatment when you have to rely on telling the medicos ‘I’ve read the literature, I understand statistics, and I’d rather just die now than go through x number of months or years feeling like shit’?

  11. #11 mayhempix
    November 30, 2007

    “Religion is child abuse.”

    Yep. It never ceases to amaze me how upset people get when I say it. They think that stating the truth is more offensive then the results of filling children’s minds with such deadly foolishness. Hence suicide bombers, abortion doctor assassins, child beaters and wingnut war mongers.

  12. #12 Lago
    November 30, 2007

    She always took my milk..

    When I went to school as a kid, there was this JW girl that I was friends with. We never discussed religion or anything like that. We were sorta just lunch table friends. We were the land of misfits really. Not jocks, not nerds, not anythng really. I was friends with her, and she with me for no other reason that we were friends. One day she simply seemed to disappear. I had no idea where she had gone.

    A day or so later her father came to the school to pick up her things. It seems she had fallen in love with another member of her Kingdom Hall, and they were denied the rights to a relationship. The two had, in secret, decided to run away to Florida and get married by themselves. She had never told me anything about any of this.

    On the way to Florida, in the middle of the night, her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel and had crashed the car. She bled to death internally, and, as a JW she was not given treatment, or so I heard. The teachers knew about this, and tried to tell us she would have died any ways, as “The damage was done,” but I knew the teachers had thought differently, and were trying to just cover-up the facts, as I pretty much over heard them saying so…

    It was weird looking at my milk over the next month or so.

    I hated milk..

  13. #13 Lorax
    November 30, 2007

    Ill be the heartless bastard. If only all the religious people were as dedicated the problems with religion would last ~ 1 more generation. And yes convincing a child to take a course of action in the name of god which directly kills them is no different than coercing someone to jump off a building to get some sick jollies.

    Religious zealots indoctrinate children to strap bombs to their chests and blow up other people. I expect the judge (and aunt) would find this morally wrong and dare I say evil. However, indoctrinating children to kill themselves, well that’s morally ambiguous.

    Question: Does Washington try 14 year olds as adults, in particular give death penalty sentences? If not this judge is endorsing state sanctioned hypocrisy

  14. #14 Rick Schauer
    November 30, 2007

    As Dawkins said, “the implications of religion are staggering…” and this is just one small example. As the owner of a health care communications company my biggest obsticle informing people about health care is religion. Some people want to “pray” their way to better health…crazy or what? It’s totally inappropriate…leading kids there is child abuse, no question. That’s why confronting West tonight at the U of M is so important…hopefully, we’ll see all you Minnesota freethinkers at the Campus Club at 5:30pm today…free beer!

  15. #15 Kevin
    November 30, 2007

    I’ve read your blog many times, and used to think you were a little too extreme in your contempt for religion, but a story like this forces me to re-consider my position. You are absolutely right; his aunt murdered him. On the other hand, she must be the victim of someone else. She was probably indoctrinated at a young age as well. It’s an endless cycle of ignorance.

  16. #16 Brandon
    November 30, 2007

    This is still a ridiculous generalization. Find a news story about a kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity. Are you then going to argue that black culture is child abuse?

    Religion is not child abuse. Religion can be child abuse, and at times it certainly is. But you can reference a million stories about religion screwing up somebody’s life and still have only considered a tiny portion of the world’s religious population.

    As a scientist, you can do better than this, PZ Myers. I’m sure you know very well that examples are not evidence. Give us a real logical argument that religion is detrimental to children, and I will consider it. Until then, this really comes off as just hate speech.

  17. #17 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    …but the article says that with additional chemotherapy and transfusions his life might have been prolonged by five years. I find it equally plausible that the religion gave him an excuse to give up. Granted, the information provided in the article is thin, I do find it hard to believe the doctors would be saying the kid would barely make it to voting age anyway, but to me it looks more like effect of transfusing would have been to prolong dying, not save his life.

    No. It says 70% chance of surviving 5 years. Turn that around, it’s a 30% chance of dying within 5 years. It says nothing whatsoever about survival beyond that point. 5-year survival rates are standard metrics for evaluating cancer treatments, I believe.

  18. #18 jfatz
    November 30, 2007

    Children are allowed to die because religious motives but grown ups cannot get euthanasia if they wish so and whoever helps them goes to jail.

    The US is a really strange country.

    This.

  19. #19 Russell Blackford
    November 30, 2007

    Actually, he was probably just as well placed to make the decision as someone aged 16, 18, or 20, or whatever, who had the same beliefs.

    Furthermore, you can’t impose medical treatment on people against their will. The law quite properly gives people the right to decline medical treatment without inquiring as to whether their reasons are somehow “correct”. About the only exception is if you’re in the military – in which case the state’s interest in keeping you fit for active duty prevails over your own wishes.

    The point here shouldn’t be to complain about the law. I have no problem with patient autonomy for a 14-y.o. who has been examined by a court and been held to be sufficiently mature to make his own decision about whether to decline medical treatment. The point should simply be the destructiveness of such religious beliefs. PZ has the emphasis right here.

  20. #20 MS
    November 30, 2007

    It was bad enough to hear recent stories about adults surrendering their lives when they could so easily have been saved, but to hear a kid saying that… and a court saying it’s perfectly ok for that to happen… it’s criminal. And I hope that aunt can’t sleep at night.

  21. #21 Orac
    November 30, 2007

    The judge is an accessory to murder. An 8th friggin grader! You don’t let kids do stupid things. They are KIDS. They can be stupid when they grow up, but first they have to live to adulthood.

    If you read my blog, you know that I rant about this sort of thing all the time, both in the context of teens being taken in by alternative medicine and eschewing effective therapy (Abraham Cherrix and Katie Wernecke, for example) and religion (Christian Scientists, for example), sadly it’s not quite that simple for at least one reason. Consider the problem of treating a 14-year-old who will not cooperate with your treatments. Religion is one of the most powerful motivators known to man; he would be quite likely resist physically. Should the judge call in some brawny guards to strap him down and force him to take the transfusion? If his platelet count is low (which frequently happens in patients with leukemia), physical force against him to force him to comply could risk doing grave harm. Another aspect of this is that physicians and nurses are very uncomfortable forcibly treating anyone above a certain age, with the exception of young children who clearly can’t be expected to understand the issues and make an informed choice. Of course, physicians and nurses are even more uncomfortable with (seriously disturbed by) watching a youth die unnecessarily when they can save his life with a simple medical intervention.

    In this particular case, I suppose one could say that Dennis was probably so sick that he couldn’t resist or argue that it would be easy to wait until he was so weak that he couldn’t resist, but it’s still a tough call.

    So, yes, I’m sympathetic to the view that the guardians should have been overruled, but I think some commenters here don’t appreciate that implementing a decision is not as easy as just ordering the treatment. Even so, I come very close to saying that, yes, Dennis should have been forced to take a transfusion and his guardians barred from his room while it was being done. But I have no illusions about just how nasty a scene that could have been. In the end, it’s the religious indoctrination that I blame, and the judge not as much.

  22. #22 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    Give us a real logical argument that religion is detrimental to children, and I will consider it.

    OK. There is no objective metric by which one can evaluate the truth of religious beliefs on which the ‘non-harmful’ beliefs pass, but the ‘harmful’ ones fail. This disconnect between observable reality and religious belief entangles all such unsupported beliefs, such that promotion of the acceptance of one automatically enables acceptance of the others.

    Put simply, we can distinguish between ‘harmful’ and ‘non-harmful’ religious beliefs based upon content. We cannot distinguish between them based upon epistemology.

  23. #23 Rick Schauer
    November 30, 2007

    #16, Brandon,
    Read “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris. It does a great job of explaining our position. Also see: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/
    …it doesn’t take a scientist to debunk religion…just critical reading skills. Good Luck!

  24. #24 RascoHeldall
    November 30, 2007

    That is precisely what happened. This child firmly believed that he would survive without the transfusion; just not in this world, but in a magical place where dying in a really stupid, pointless way is apparently considered a fucking virtue.

    Yep. Trouble is most people in America (including, presumably, the cretinous Judge in this case) believe the same thing. And the tragic consequence of this asine delusion is that they are not as inclined to save him as they would be if they realised, if we could only get it into their thick skulls, that our short time on Earth is all we are going to get.

  25. #25 Jenbug
    November 30, 2007

    I’m totally jumping on the anecdotal bandwagon.

    In middle school I played violin, and in our very small orchestra group there was a girl named Rebecca, who was epileptic. She was also incredibly sweet and kind, but had a sort of mischeivous streak that probably bedeviled her with its implications of being ‘less than pure.’ Her parents (and their dozen or so children) were Christian Scientists, and the girls all wore skirts and plain clothes and such. Rebecca played bass, and the violin. She seemed to have many odd constraints on her life; she wasn’t allowed to date or go to parties if there were boys there, she couldn’t wear a bathing suit or shorts, and she didn’t talk to boys in school AT ALL. I sometimes wonder why she wasn’t homeschooled. A mutual friend of ours, a strings teacher, told me that Rebecca’s parents convinced her they’d bought her a Stradivarius. Which of course was a lie, but she’d been taught to trust and honor them so implicitly that she never thought to question it.

    The summer before she started high school, Rebecca had a friend over for a sleepover. Because she was not medicated for her epilepsy, the seizure she suffered in the night – through a series of complications and her parents refusing medical care- killed her.

    I went to the funeral, and my mother had to forcibly remove me from the service when I saw her parents, who were smiling and singing with joy because Rebecca was with Jesus now. I screamed that they were crazy and had killed her, because I was 13 and the idea of someone’s parents just letting them die for religion was like a nightmare come to life.

    I’m not trying to prove a point with this comment, the post just reminded me of a time when someone put more import into the approval of an invisible being than their child’s health.

  26. #26 Carlie
    November 30, 2007

    I appreciate Orac’s comments; the rights of people to refuse treatment are fraught with contingencies and situational ethics in all cases. However, I think the point to be made is well in advance of the situation. This particular religion has a a major tenet that people must eschew a common, proven medical treatment, no matter what the circumstances, or else their god won’t love them any more. THAT is abuse, for both children and adults.

  27. #27 Robbin
    November 30, 2007

    This is still a ridiculous generalization. Find a news story about a kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity. Are you then going to argue that black culture is child abuse?

    Did you just say that gangs are intrinsic to black culture? Because there are white gangs and Hispanic gangs and Asian gangs and all sorts of other gangs, you know. And I’d think that most people would agree that adults who indoctrinate children into gangs have committed child abuse.

  28. #28 Olaf Davis
    November 30, 2007

    From the article:

    “However, his birth parents… believed their son should have had the transfusion and suggested he had been unduly influenced by his aunt”

    What an utterly horrible thing to have to go through.

  29. #29 Hank Fox
    November 30, 2007

    I probably wouldn’t let an 8th grader operate a chainsaw. I doubt I’d agree that a child of 14 was qualified to make THIS decision.

    Also, regarding his 70 percent chance of surviving 5 years, that figure will take on a whole different significance for everyone involved if they find a cure for leukemia in 4 years.

    None of the stories I could find said why the kid was in the custody of his aunt, and why the parents did not have the right to overrule this thing.

    And I wonder what religion the judge in this story is?

  30. #30 chriss
    November 30, 2007

    What?…no crowds of pro-lifers?…no accusations of judicial activism?…no emergency session of congress?…no presidential intervention?…WTF?!

  31. #31 Jerry Jones
    November 30, 2007

    Misinterpreting the Old Testament prohibition against eating animal blood as a routine food item, in 1945, the WatchTower Society began teaching that receiving a blood transfusion was “eating human blood”. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that receiving an infusion of human blood into their body’s circulatory system is scientifically the exact same thing as eating or ingesting blood into their body’s digestive system:

    “A patient in the hospital maybe fed through the mouth, through the nose, or through the veins. When sugar solutions are given intravenously it is called intravenous feeding. So the hospital’s own terminology recognizes as feeding the process of putting nutrition into one’s system via the veins. Hence the attendant administering the transfusion is feeding the patient through the veins, and the patient receiving it is eating through his veins.” — The WATCHTOWER magazine, July 1, 1951.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that when human blood is transfused into their body’s circulatory system that the transfused human blood remains to be human blood and continues to function as human blood. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that if blood is eaten, then the ingested blood enters the body’s digestive system, where the blood would be treated by the body exactly the same as it would treat a hotdog, a potato chip, or any other food item. Ingested blood would be completely digested and broken down into proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and waste; which are then either assimilated or excreted by the body.

    The WatchTower Society uses scriptures which speak about the blood of slaughtered animals to teach Jehovah’s Witnesses that blood is “sacred” because blood is the “symbol of life”. Then, the WatchTower Society turns around and requires Jehovah’s Witnesses to sacrifice their own “life” to maintain the alleged “sacredness” of a “symbol” of the very thing they are sacrificing — their life. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that the WatchTower doctrine on blood moronically places a higher value on the SYMBOL than it does on the THING SYMBOLIZED

    In fact, the Old Testament scriptures permitted the eating of unbled animal meat, which the Bible treats exactly the same as eating animal blood itself. In isolated occasions, when humans needed to eat unbled meat in order to sustain their own human life, the Mosaic Law permitted such, but then required the eaters to fulfill the requirements of being “unclean” for a few days. Thus, the Bible recognized that the sustaining of human life was more “sacred” than maintaining the sacredness of animal blood. To do otherwise would be doing exactly what the moronic WatchTower Society does. It would make the SYMBOL more SACRED than the THING SYMBOLIZED.

    In fact, the WatchTower Society is leading Jehovah’s Witnesses to disobey GOD and violate the Holy Scriptures in one of the most serious ways possible. Because humans were created in GOD’s image, GOD considers human life sacred. A Jehovah’s Witness who sacrifices their SACRED LIFE in order to maintain the sacredness of a SYMBOL of that SACRED LIFE varies little from those who profane life by committing suicide. Those Jehovah’s Witness Elders who teach and police this moronic doctrine vary little from common accessories to murder. The Bible is fairly clear in how GOD views murder, and how He deals with Murderers.

    This moronic twisting of scripture would be laughable if not for the fact that it has lead to the pointless deaths of numerous Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past, and it will continue to lead to the pointless deaths of many more Jehovah’s Witnesses in the future.

    The following website summarizes over 315 U.S. court cases and lawsuits affecting children of Jehovah’s Witness Parents, including 200+ cases where the JW Parents refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions for their dying children:

    DIVORCE, BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS, AND OTHER LEGAL ISSUES AFFECTING CHILDREN OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES

    http://jwdivorces.bravehost.com

  32. #32 Waterdog
    November 30, 2007

    Re: #10: Leukemia actually has a very good long-term survival rate. It’s one of the few cancers that isn’t necessarily a death sentence, you can recover and go on to have a long and healthy life. This was neither a long shot nor prolonging the inevitable that he decided against.

    Re: #16: Not like a scientist? To generalize from examples? It’s called empiricism, and induction. It doesn’t matter if less than 1% of religious people blow themselves up or let their children die, if it’s a consistent and steady occurrence in that <1%, then you don't just call it a discrepant data point and dismiss it. This is an extreme example of what's wrong with religion. In the other 99% there are other, less horrifying examples, but ultimately, there's always a problem when large numbers of people turn off their brain to any degree.

    Whether it be denying evolution and devaluing math and science, voting in untrustworthy people on the basis of religion, wasting potential legit charity money on slick televangelists, these are all examples of how religion makes the world a worse place, because each generation of stupids indoctrinates the critical thinking out of their own children, continuing the downward spiral.

  33. #33 Graculus
    November 30, 2007

    Give us a real logical argument that religion is detrimental to children, and I will consider it.

    How about you read the post.

    Until then, this really comes off as just hate speech.

    Ah yes, the old “criticism = hate” bullshit. Go pound sand.

  34. #34 One Eyed Jack
    November 30, 2007

    The judge and the family should be held accountable for his death. A 13/14 yr old child is not capable of making this decision. My son is 13 years old, and extremely bright. There is no way I would allow him to make a decision like this. Even the brightest of children lacks the mental maturity to make an informed decision of this magnitude.

    If the same child had refused to eat, would the judge have order IV or GI feeding? I think the answer is yes.

    Only in the realm of religion is child abuse condoned. Only in the realm of religion is murder overlooked. Only in the realm of religion is ignorance celebrated.

    I wish there were a hell so these people could rot in it.

    OEJ

  35. #35 Leslie C
    November 30, 2007

    At the hospital where I work we have a procedure in place just for JW’s. We have a stack of court orders waiting. When the patient loses consciousness a doctor fills out a form declaring them no longer capable of making their own decisions, someone fills in the name and date on the court order and takes it to the judge (who is not like THAT judge), wakes him up if necessary, he signs, we give the transfusion. If parents are refusing treatment for a minor, we call the police and they are arrested for criminal neglect of a minor. If the patient lives, we drop the charges.
    Sometimes, of course, this all takes too long and we lose them. But we try. Our most recent case involved a mother 22 years old who had just given birth to twins. She had bled so much she was in real danger of dying, and she knew it.
    We saved her. I don’t know if she is glad, but we are.

  36. #36 danley
    November 30, 2007

    All I have to say is what the fuck?

  37. #37 CalGeorge
    November 30, 2007

    I’m looking forward to the next time Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on my front door. I’m going to give them a piece of my mind.

  38. #38 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    None of the stories I could find said why the kid was in the custody of his aunt, and why the parents did not have the right to overrule this thing.

    The local TV news had more details–the parents had been addicts, and had legally surrendered custody to the aunt while they got their lives together, which–at least from superficial appearances during this TV story–they had seemed to do successfully. They wanted the transfusions, but stopped their legal fight when the boy went into his final coma the day before he died.

  39. #39 Carlie
    November 30, 2007

    Wow. So, they needed help taking care of their child, they did the completely responsible thing by admitting they needed help and going to their trusted family members to get it, and their family killed their son. Truly, religion brings family together.

  40. #40 Caucasian Jesus
    November 30, 2007

    CalGeorge, splash a little blood on them and watch the Catholics sip it off. Thp thp thp thp, yummm.

  41. #41 One Eyed Jack
    November 30, 2007

    #16 Brandon writes:

    “Find a news story about a kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity. Are you then going to argue that black culture is child abuse?”

    This says far more about you, Brandon, than it does the issue at hand.

    1) The analogy is false. No culture, white, black, Latino, or Venusian, is equivalent to a parent indoctrinating a child into a religion. A parent exercises a much higher level of influence.

    2) No ethnic culture inherently forms gangs. Prevalence of gangs are tied to poverty if anything. Actually, there was this one gang, comprised mostly of middle class white males. They called it the Ku Klux Klan.

    OEJ

  42. #42 Kseniya
    November 30, 2007

    What?…no crowds of pro-lifers?…no accusations of judicial activism?…no emergency session of congress?…no presidential intervention?…WTF?! Posted by: chriss

    Well, now! Isn’t that an interesting point!

    I suppose the difference is that Terry Schiavo, being brain-dead and all, wasn’t able to sit up and speak into the microphones to express her wishes.

    Of course, to fully accept that argument, one must ignore the fact that her husband Michael a murderous liar for expressing her wishes for her – of, as Frist et al. did, make Michael out to be a liar who only sought the death of his inconveniently comatose wife.

    Minors can make decisions for themselves. I believe that here in Massachusetts, once a child of separated parents reaches the age of 12, he can have some say in his own custody arrangements. That’s hardly a life-or-death decision, though.

    Imagine:

    Boy: I have blasphemed. I have denied the Holy Spirit and posted my denial on YouTube. I am going to Hell and cannot live with myself. Therefore I am going to jump off the roof of the courthouse and die.

    Judge: Are you sure?

    Boy: Yes.

    Judge: Ok then.

  43. #43 Kseniya
    November 30, 2007

    Girl: I’m really sad, my life sucks, I’ve been socially destroyed by all the horrible things this boy I met online is saying about me. Everyone hates me. I’ll never feel good again. I’m going to hang myself in the closet.

    Judge: Absolutely not. I’m going to sign this Committment Order, and have you transfered to…

    Girl: Suicide is consonant with my relgious beliefs.

    Judge: Oh! Well! Alright then. Off you go.

  44. #44 Greg Laden
    November 30, 2007

    I was just taken to task by a troll on my site for noting that a child becoming religious can be a parent’s worse nightmare. Dammit.

  45. #45 Kseniya
    November 30, 2007

    Holy crap! I swear I didn’t type this:

    Of course, to fully accept that argument, one must ignore the fact that her husband Michael a murderous liar for expressing her wishes for her

    Ok, I did, but as you can see I’m my own worst editor. It should have read:

    “Of course, to fully accept that argument, one must ignore the fact that her husband Michael expressed her wishes for her – or, as Frist […]”

  46. #46 Ollie
    November 30, 2007

    Too bad for the kid, but this is a good ruling if you ask me. The state has no business making patients decisions for them. So what if he’s “only” 14. He’s old enough to understand the consequences. Regardless of if he believes there’s life somewhere after that, he understood that it would be the end of the line for him here. He’s pretty stupid, if you ask me, for thinking a blood transfusion would make him “unlovable in the eyes of god,” but people are free to be morons. I’d really call religion a disease, rather than a form of child abuse. It just gets passed down to children because anybody past their very early years would react to religious stories by saying, “please, I’m not stupid enough to believe THAT.”

  47. #47 Zeno
    November 30, 2007

    I have cousins born back in the 1950s when blood transfusions were used to treat newborns suffering from Rh factor conflicts with their mothers. Without the transfusions they would probably have died. Once a Jehovah’s Witness came to my parents’ home and had the misfortune to meet me. I told him, “My cousins are alive because of blood transfusions. If my aunt and uncle were Jehovah’s Witnesses, my cousins would be dead. I think your religion is ridiculous.” The Witness decided he’d rather talk about evolution instead, but that didn’t go too well either.

  48. #48 Charles Soto
    November 30, 2007

    Religion is child abuse. Yup. Or at least “neglect,” since the term “abuse” has connotations that indicate willful wrongdoing. No matter what, that aunt deserves to be burned at the stake. I’ll hold judgement on the judge – it could be he was protecting civil liberties and isn’t exactly a fundie. I don’t have enough information. But if he’s a fundie who thinks the kid was “righteous” to do this and Jeebus will protect him, then he should exit the judicial system most rickytick.

    And, yeah, I’ll say it – at least the kid died before he could perpetuate the stupidity It used to be that the “stupid” got sick and died or got eaten or whatever. But people are generally too safe today, so “stupid” is no longer a reason to take one out of the breeding population.

    Along these lines, religion may have been a type of “communal stupid” that had some advantages. It built communities that would otherwise might not have survived without a way to “coerce” community involvement. “God wills it” was a useful way to get community planners to get the well dug. Today, the advantages of a shared belief in invisible men are far outweighed by the damages caused by the rejection of rational thought it requires. It’s just that the believers won’t die fast enough!

  49. #49 Uber
    November 30, 2007

    But you can reference a million stories about religion screwing up somebody’s life and still have only considered a tiny portion of the world’s religious population.

    I would guess if you took a microscope to the rest of the religious lives you would find a net zero gain in real world value if not a negative.

    Just this week alone the concept of hell has caused family disruption here, a child dead above, a bunch of things from 1 day yesterday, the systematic devaluing and attacking of science, the preventing of condoms being used in Africa, the pushing of superstition into the Presidential race in the USA, suicide bombers, ridiculously silly apologists, school boards wasting public funds,and it goes on and on. This is only the ‘big’ ideas and not the million of paper cuts it causes daily.

    Why anyone wants to defend this stuff past admitting, ‘Well I was raised that way’ is beyond my understanding.

    To equate what happened to this child due to the thoughts being pumped into his head by an adult to gang formation is simply moronic. That may be the worst analogy ever presented on this website.

  50. #50 Stevie_C
    November 30, 2007

    I will not let my son be infected by the disease that is religion.
    It ruins the mind. What that woman did is child abuse.
    And the judge is an coward.

  51. #51 Lantz
    November 30, 2007

    Not being one of JW’s makes it very easy for most of you to pass judgement. The boy did NOT believe in a place of eternal torment, the Bible shows there is no such place. However he did believe in everlasting life on earth when he will be resurrected. True Christian have often died for their beliefs, some even for merely not announcing their allegiance to some nation. No matter what I say most of you will never understand what we go threw in situations like these. It takes much more strength and faith to do what this boy did then to just give in to someone else’s beliefs. There is no comparisons to a few short years on earth in sickness to everlasting life on earth without sickness, sorrow and death.

    Before so quickly passing judgement it might be wise to look into why he chose this course. You may not agree with it for yourself but at least there will be much less misinformation being spread about our beliefs.

    http://www.watchtower.org/e/hb/index.htm?article=article_05.htm
    http://www.watchtower.org/e/hb/index.htm?article=article_07.htm
    http://www.watchtower.org/e/20000108/article_01.htm
    http://www.watchtower.org/e/200608/article_03.htm

  52. #52 Marcus Ranum
    November 30, 2007

    Evolution in action.

  53. #53 Hank Fox
    November 30, 2007

    Ollie: So what if he’s “only” 14. He’s old enough to understand the consequences.

    So you’d agree that 8th graders should be allowed to operate chainsaws?

  54. #54 Ali
    November 30, 2007

    Unbelievable! All religions at one point stop people from thinking rationally (or they want people not to think).But this one is just a kid. A 14 year old is not a legal age in any country how can the judge give such a vote? Isn’t it the same case as some religious people are against all kind of Abortion “No matter the situation?”. Even if a child is a rape victim and pregnant they say no abortion, and if an organization like Amnesty, fights for the right of people to choose, they go mental!

  55. #55 brent
    November 30, 2007

    It seems to me that part of the issue here is that our society is so profoundly confused as to the issue of adulthood. As we all know, when we are taking a “tough on crime” approach, 14 and 15 year olds are often tried as adults. Hell, in States like Kansas, 10 year olds can be tried as adults.

    On the other hand there are a whole class of legal rulings, concerning reproductive rights or statutory rape laws for instance, where there is a very bright line of adulthood and 15 and 16 year olds are on the other side of it.

    Essentially, we have decided as a society to make the definition of adulthood discretionary.

    This is all in the way of saying that I don’t think the judge’s decision is all that surprising in that context. I don’t think it would be proper to make the decision that the child is only a child if he or she makes a decision which we think is stupid. To the degree that there is any discretion at all about whether or not a a 14 year old is competent to make these sorts of decisions, and clearly the law has decided that there is such discretion, then the decision cannot realistically involve whether or not the judge agrees with the tenets of the child’s faith. I think we can all see the danger in that.

    The judge should really only concern himself with 2 questions: 1) can a 14 year old be considered competent to make medical decisions, 2) is the 14 year old in question mentally and emotionally competent to make such decisions?

    As I say, point 1 is something of a contentious issue in our society but the current state of affairs seems to be that we grant judges and other legal bodies discretion to decide this issue in individual cases. On point 2, as much as I know about the case, the kid in question does not suffer from any sort of diagnosed mental illness and is not otherwise emotionally or mentally impaired. He just believes a stupid thing and it is not the court’s place to force him to act against his stupid belief.

    My opinion: The aunt bears the brunt of the blame here. The judge acted reasonably within his discretion to not force a medical procedure on someone who could very clearly indicate they didn’t want it.

  56. #56 Dustin
    November 30, 2007

    Or at least “neglect,” since the term “abuse” has connotations that indicate willful wrongdoing.

    I think “abuse” is a better label for religion. It’s hard for me to think of filling a kid’s head with images of hellfire and eternal damnation and doctrines about bodily purity as being neglegent. Especially when it comes to Jehova’s Witnesses. They are extremely capricious when it comes to their children, and are always hovering over them attempting to retard their social development, and go so far as to offer the children stark choices like, “you can have your worldly friends, but not us and God at the same time”. It’s abuse in the sense that an overbearing husband is abusive.

  57. #57 Dustin
    November 30, 2007

    And, in the “religion kills” vein, we have these exemplars of morality. So, I suppose I don’t technically think it’s fair to label religion as just “child abuse”. It abuses everyone.

  58. #58 Nan
    November 30, 2007

    Having watched my cousin die a long lingering miserable death from leukemia, I’m not quite as sanguine as Waterdog about the odds of surviving the disease. Enormous progress has been made, especially with childhood leukemias, but some people still die. Some die from the leukemia, some die from the treatments. As I noted, the article doesn’t give much information. Survivability depends on multiple factors: how early a diagnosis is made, how the individual patient responds to initial treatments, and so on. We don’t have that information so assuming the patient would have survived if only he’d allowed transfusions may be purely wishful thinking.

    Would we all be as outraged about the young man refusing treatment if he hadn’t said it was against his religion but had instead said he didn’t like the odds?

  59. #59 Anonymous coward
    November 30, 2007

    Darwin Award!

    (FWIW, I consider a serious 14-yr old old enough to make most medical decisions).

  60. #60 Ryan F Stello
    November 30, 2007

    As we all know, when we are taking a “tough on crime” approach, 14 and 15 year olds are often tried as adults. Hell, in States like Kansas, 10 year olds can be tried as adults.

    There is a difference, there, and it has nothing to do with ‘profound confusion’.

    If a child commits a violent crime, those laws don’t consider him an adult because he/she has a greater ability to weigh the consequences, but its because there is a fear that the child will remain such a great menace as to be un-rehabitatable (I do not agree, but that’s what I think the point is).

    As such, a child who is willing to die to remain ‘pure’ is not a societal menace, and clearly, doesn’t have a great ability to weigh the consequences of such a decision.

  61. #61 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    So you’d agree that 8th graders should be allowed to operate chainsaws?

    You know, they probably *aren’t* allowed to operate chainsaws, just like I couldn’t find anywhere to rent me a flamethrower the other weekend when I found a wasps’ nest in the garage.

    Goddamn nanny state.

  62. #62 charley
    November 30, 2007

    “Religion is child abuse. It strips kids of the critical reasoning abilities that can save their lives.”

    I agree that religious thought control is abusive, regardless of how accountable its practitioners are (“virus” victim vs. a**hole). Since all religions practice thought control on children to some extent, PZ’s statement is not an over-generalization.

    To me, the worst part of this control is not the beliefs they promote, which are bad enough, but the ideas they condition their followers NOT to think about, which is anything which might undermine their beliefs. This includes critical thinking and a lot more. These ideas are not merely omitted from their education, they are associated with the subtle work of the devil and taboo for discussion. A child brought up this way feels guilty every time a thought pops into his head which doesn’t mesh with what he’s supposed to believe. Eventually he squelches these thoughts automatically, and he is handicapped for life, unless he manages to overcome the fear of thinking.

    That’s how it felt to me, anyway.

  63. #63 Orac
    November 30, 2007

    We don’t have that information so assuming the patient would have survived if only he’d allowed transfusions may be purely wishful thinking.

    Actually, we do have that information. One of the news reports states that doctors quoted Dennis’ odds at around a 70% chance of long term survival. Do you think they just pulled that number out of their asses? No, such estimates are based on loads of data and science that allow us to tally up prognostic factors and determine a patient’s odds of survival based on stage, tumor, and histopathological findings (and more and more often these days molecular profiling).

  64. #64 Orac
    November 30, 2007

    Oops. Hit “Post” too soon.

    So, to conclude, it is not “wishful thinking” to conclude that the boy would have had a very good chance of surviving his cancer if he had accepted a blood transfusions. Certainly his odds would have been very much better than his odds if he didn’t accept one, which were very close to zero.

  65. #65 raven
    November 30, 2007

    We saw something similar. They weren’t JWs, they were faith healers from a blot of fundies out in the boonies. Young 2nd grade school kid, childhood leukemia, no treatment.

    Childhood leukemia is often curable, this wasn’t an unusual type or anything. The docs went to court because in this state denying medical care to minors is illegal. Big court case, by the time treatment was ordered the kid was too far gone and died soon after.

    It was such a hassle no one bothers anymore. The fundies are still there. Sometimes their kids get sick and get well. Sometimes they die.

  66. #66 Fentwin
    November 30, 2007

    By Guido,
    “Children are allowed to die because religious motives but grown ups cannot get euthanasia if they wish so…”

    Interesting isn’t it. Religious motives allow for the death of a child, while the very same motives keeps adults from making the very same decision.

  67. #67 AJ Milne
    November 30, 2007

    It’s a bit off topic, but I’d say that most religions, at least, are profoundly negative all on their own, for a child, quite apart from whether or not they cause the child to cooperate in his own effective murder, but for reasons closely related to what happened here. They’re abusive purely in the sense that they do cripple critical thinking, enforce unthinking allegiance to an absolute authority–and worst of all, to one which is constructed on demonstrably false pretenses, and pretenses the child almost certainly knows are false.

    In my opinion, this is one of the worst things about religions–a apparently diffuse harm, but an ubiquitous one, and one with far reaching effects in society, apart from being, really, a miserable and vicious thing to do to a human mind. The harm is: religions teach children to lie–to themselves, and to others. They teach them to disregard the evidence of their own eyes, to disregard the conclusions of their own faculties, and, finally, they reward the declaration of fealty to something the child almost certainly knows is a lie. The underlying message is clear enough: honesty is worth less than loyalty to the tribe. And the truth is what is most socially convenient for it to be.

    But the child will always know this is the deal they’ve cut, on some level, even into adulthood. And they will always know the self-contempt that follows from it, as long as they adhere to this value. It is a misery I think the world could well do with much less of.

  68. #68 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    Would we all be as outraged about the young man refusing treatment if he hadn’t said it was against his religion but had instead said he didn’t like the odds?

    The odds are real.

  69. #69 raven
    November 30, 2007

    Childhood leukemia outcomes can be quite good although with each patient there is no guarantee. I know one case well that was diagnosed in teens. He is now over 60 with kids and grandkids.

  70. #70 MemeGene
    November 30, 2007

    While we give parents and guardians of minors nearly full authority over the juveniles in their care, they should be held responsible when their lifestyle choices and beliefs lead to the harm or deaths of these juveniles. This includes girls who suffer harm from being forced to carry a pregnancy to term by anti-choice parents and cases like this, where it is pretty clear that the aunt’s religion unduly influenced the patient.

    On the other hand, we have adult women in this country still being denied the right to seek elective sterilization because “they might change their mind”. How can the decision of a brainwashed teenager to die be weighed as more valid than a legal adult’s desire to pursue permanent contraception? There are far too many inconsistencies introduced when religion is involved – either a person’s decision about their health and life should be respected or not, regardless of religion.

  71. #71 Greg Peterson
    November 30, 2007

    Speaking of religion killing, in light of recent events in the Sudan, I have renamed my ball python (formerly “Snakers”) Mohammed. Cruel stupidity should always have consequences. Let the backlash begin.

  72. #72 Hank Fox
    November 30, 2007

    thalarctos: You know, they probably *aren’t* allowed to operate chainsaws, just like I couldn’t find anywhere to rent me a flamethrower the other weekend when I found a wasps’ nest in the garage. / Goddamn nanny state.

    How to make a homemade flame thrower out of a Supersoaker.

    To paraphrase Homer Simpson:

    “Ah, the Internet. The cause of, and the solution to, all of life’s problems.”

  73. #73 andy
    November 30, 2007

    Hmmf. Apparently the idea of
    choice is valid only if you’re
    “religious”.

    Why do they (the religious) have
    no problem with this, yet shit their
    pants over the fate of a blastocyst
    in a petri dish?

  74. #74 jehovah's shitlist
    November 30, 2007

    I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. So the kid refused a blood transfusion because of his stupid religious beliefs. Too bad for him. Perhaps he escaped a life of delusion and oppression by a church that is blind to its glaringly offensive history of lies. Let’s be reasonable and feel genuine pity for the Aunt who is so blind to the banality of her beliefs that she stood by while her Nephew died of a treatable disease, probably smiling and encouraging him and herself both with patently false ideas about god and heaven and glory and other such nonsense. How sad. I fully understand the anger that such senseless behavior inspires in those of us who have been fortunate enough to benefit from being born in a time, place and culture that makes available to us the tools, knowledge and freedom to escape or avoid such flagrant nonsense. Let’s not be hateful toward people who are so clearly to be pitied. Most religious people have only the best intentions but they are ensnared by beliefs that bind them into a vicious cycle of fear and ignorance. How truly, deeply and genuinely unfortunate for them that they are so deluded that they will often allow themselves to make such sacrifices of themselves and others for no discernible cause. Our anger at this situation is well justified, but responding with virulence is reactionary and counterproductive. Lets try some benevolence.

  75. #75 Donnie B.
    November 30, 2007

    Do the Jehovah’s Witnesses take communion? If they do, do they accept transubstantiation, as do the Roman Catholics?

    If yes to both, then they’re eating Jesus blood along with the host. Or doesn’t Jesus blood count?

    If no to either, in what way do they rationalize the command to “Take; drink; this is my blood, shed for thee”?

    I’m just curious about the mental gymnastics that must be involved.

  76. #76 Kseniya
    November 30, 2007

    Ok, so, lessee:

    14: Old enough to choose death
    16: Old enough to drive
    17: Old enough to decide to have sex
    18: Old enough to join the Army
    21: Old enough to buy a beer
    25: Old enough to rent a car

    Got it.

    By the way, the analogies to abortion are flawed, as are any that rely on Person A having life-or-death control over Person B (even if it’s an embryo). There is some overlap, but not enough to make the analogy work. IMO. It’s about Person A being old enough to make life or death decisions about himself.

    I agree, however, that the usual hue-and-cry about the sanctity of life does not seem to appear uniformly. (That’s an understatement.) I also agree that at some point, a person has the right to die with dignity – and to make their own assessment of what dignity means to them, even if a substantial proportion of the population considers that assessment to be a bit crazy. (Plenty of people think that refusing last rites is plainly insane. What can you do?)

    However, a 14 year old with a reasonably high chance of survival refusing a relatively uninvasive treatment for reasons which are plainly wrong (as explained above, “transfusion” != “eating human blood”) is, IMO, just wrong, and should not be allowed. If he was 30, it would be just as “wrong”, but at some point we do have to let go and allow a person to make those decisions. Fourteen, however, is below that threshold.

  77. #77 brent
    November 30, 2007

    If a child commits a violent crime, those laws don’t consider him an adult because he/she has a greater ability to weigh the consequences, but its because there is a fear that the child will remain such a great menace as to be un-rehabitatable (I do not agree, but that’s what I think the point is).

    I am sorry, this just isn’t the case. This is obviously off topic but I think its important to the larger context here.

    There are all sorts of reasons and legal justifications given for trying very young children as adults. Often the justification given is that the child has committed a “very adult crime” whatever the fuck that means. In Florida, where I live half the year, children are even tried as adults for non-violent crimes like property theft and drug offenses and even for misdemeanors. I am sure the situation is similar all over the country and it cannot be reconciled with the notion that we believe these are all hard cases who are un-rehabitatable.

    As such, a child who is willing to die to remain ‘pure’ is not a societal menace, and clearly, doesn’t have a great ability to weigh the consequences of such a decision.

    The question is: Why do you believe that? It seems to me that you are making the argument that what he decided itself is what makes him incompetent. Not his age. If an adult makes the same decision, is there really any argument as to whether they are legally allowed to do so? If you want to show that the kid is incompetent to refuse medical care, you cannot realistically expect the court to rely on the decision itself or his religious beliefs as a justification. You have to either make the argument that a 14 year old is not legally competent to make medical decisions, which would have serious implications on a wide range of juvenile related medical issues. Or you have to argue that this particular child has a mental or emotional problem that render him non compos mentis, and being religious doesn’t count. Saying, clearly he is not competent because he made the wrong decision based upon a religious belief that I don’t agree with, does not fly.

  78. #78 Epistaxis
    November 30, 2007

    When the patient loses consciousness a doctor fills out a form declaring them no longer capable of making their own decisions, someone fills in the name and date on the court order and takes it to the judge (who is not like THAT judge), wakes him up if necessary, he signs, we give the transfusion.

    This rubs me the wrong way. I agree with the mob that it’s absolutely unconscionable for parents to kill their children even if Jehovah told them to. But if an autonomous adult wants to refuse treatment for herself, I don’t think a hospital should force her. There’s a fine line between doing harmful things to yourself because of your religious beliefs and doing harmful things to bystanders, and we should only intervene in the latter case.

  79. #79 Peter Ashby
    November 30, 2007

    You don’t need a flamethrower to deal with a wasps nest. Just a can or two of wasp killing spray. And yes, I have done it, one in the shed when we moved in and last year possibly several underneath the lintel of an upstairs window. I was up a ladder with spray can in hand and wasps buzzing around my head.

    Eventually I had to silicone all possible nest entrances. Then we began to find the odd sleepy, starving wasp in the bathroom, must have worked their way through the wall, under the floor and up through the hole under the bath for the pipes. Meant my exit blocker was working (insert evil scientist laugh here).

  80. #80 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    I wonder how many of the posters in here who disagree with decision are pro-choice? And if so, how they reconcile their belief that this judge should have used the coercive power of the state’s monopoly on violence to force this individual to do a medical procedure he felt (however deluded but while still legally sane) violated his freedom of conscience. At the same time, a pro-choice poster also wants the state to stay out of a woman’s reproductive decisions when many also rationally see that same decision as murder. (I’m a vehemently pro-choice atheist – even though the flaming will be inevitable ). In both situations, there is a balancing test of personal autonomy vs. a risk of great bodily harm or death.

    I’m also not surprised to see many of the European posters brag about how “here in the U.K. we don’t give a bollocks about someone’s personal decisions.. we just force them down and impose the State’s will upon them…” tripe. That seems pretty consonant with the latent European preference for state coercion & abatement of personal freedoms.

  81. #81 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    I wonder how many of the posters in here who disagree with decision are pro-choice?

    ‘Pro-choice’ does not mean ‘pro-choice regardless of competence.’

  82. #82 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    There was a legal proceeding where both sides were allowed to present evidence as to competence and a court found the guy competent.

    As someone who wasn’t there and heard none of the evidence, I guess MartinM is really the person in a proper position to determine competence.

  83. #83 Norman Doering
    November 30, 2007

    PalMD wrote:

    The judge is an accessory to murder.

    I agree. This might be a good question for the Republican candidates in the next debate.

    Did anyone else here bother to watch the most recent Republican debate? They had questions from average Americans and one guy waved around a Bible saying, I paraphrase from memory: “…how you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you. Do you believe every word of this book? … This book that I am holding in my hand, do you believe this book?”

    Every Repug candidate said they believed the Bible (which Bible?) was the word of God. They know nothing of the books real history.

    This is one of the reasons Huckabee, a pastor, is on the rise:


    Rove’s Frankenstein

  84. #84 CJ
    November 30, 2007

    Religion is child abuse. It strips kids of the critical reasoning abilities that can save their lives.

    You are over generalizing.

    No, he isn’t. There may be greater and lesser consequences to the ‘stripping’ but that does not negate it.

    I question … he did not make the world a better place by dying. Cycles can be broken in two ways, this is one and it was the most likely. To quote from Cormac McCarthy (assuming the dialogue was taken directly from No Country for Old Men), “he died of natural causes”.

  85. #85 John C. Randolph
    November 30, 2007

    Sorry to nit-pick, but I emphatically disagree with your statement that the kid was suicidal. He’s dead, because of a choice he made, which makes him a suicide, QED.

    -jcr

  86. #86 Peter Ashby
    November 30, 2007

    ryana why should I bother trying to debate with you if you dishonestly caricature my words? in the process imputing claims and motives to me which are not in my words and which I do not hold.

    Anytime you actually want to talk about what I actually said I will be here. Until then, goodbye.

  87. #87 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Let me flip the scenario around. A 15 year old girl is raped and impregnated by her father. She doesn’t want to give birth. MartinM…. should she have the right to have an abortion? Or must she defer to the will of an intrusive state with a christian majority more than willing to use their coercive political power to impose their belief system on her body?

  88. #88 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    You don’t need a flamethrower to deal with a wasps nest.

    I know; I was just joking. 🙂

    Just a can or two of wasp killing spray. And yes, I have done it, one in the shed when we moved in and last year possibly several underneath the lintel of an upstairs window. I was up a ladder with spray can in hand and wasps buzzing around my head.

    All joking aside, I am a phobic freak on the subject of wasps, having gotten stung at 3 years old, with a scar you can still easily see 46 years later–any insect that can inflict that kind of lasting scar is hardcore. So if you’re willing to work with them buzzing around your head, you’re a lot braver than I am.

    My friend George ended up going in with the spray; to my concerns that he might just piss them off and they’d come after him, he suggested that, for protection, perhaps he should put on two wetsuits.

  89. #89 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    There was a legal proceeding where both sides were allowed to present evidence as to competence and a court found the guy competent.

    Courts have been known to be mistaken in the past.

    As someone who wasn’t there and heard none of the evidence, I guess MartinM is really the person in a proper position to determine competence.

    Your failure to actually engage with the question of competence is noted.

  90. #90 John C. Randolph
    November 30, 2007

    Oops, change “was” to “wasn’t” above. Hate it when that happens..

    -jcr

  91. #91 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    ryana why should I bother trying to debate with you if you dishonestly caricature my words?

    ryana’s pretty obviously a Libertarian:

    the coercive power of the state’s monopoly on violence

    Good luck on having any reasonable debate there.

  92. #92 Moses
    November 30, 2007

    So what if he’s “only” 14. He’s old enough to understand the consequences. Regardless of if he believes there’s life somewhere after that, he understood that it would be the end of the line for him here. He’s pretty stupid, if you ask me, for thinking a blood transfusion would make him “unlovable in the eyes of god,” but people are free to be morons. I’d really call religion a disease, rather than a form of child abuse. It just gets passed down to children because anybody past their very early years would react to religious stories by saying, “please, I’m not stupid enough to believe THAT.”

    Posted by: Ollie | November 30, 2007 10:27 AM

    Actually not. At 14 and not having enough adult experience and opportunity to challenge the tenants of his faith and determine their vermisilitude he could only make decisions from an indoctrinated ignorance.

    If he were 18 and, being an adult, had the opportunity to explore the tenants of his religion adequately and made this decision, I’d say “good riddance and thanks for not breeding more zombies.” But that’s not the case.

    This was a decision made from culturally inflicted ignorance from which he did not have the resources or opportunity to escape.

  93. #93 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    MartinM…. should she have the right to have an abortion?

    That would depend on her fucking competence, wouldn’t it? You’re under no obligation to agree with my position, but you could at least make some token effort to honestly engage with it.

  94. #94 Atheist in a Kilt
    November 30, 2007

    I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 15 years [baptized when I was ten, walked away at 25]. I am now a “strong” atheist. To anyone here who disagreed with PZ Meyers as to this being child abuse, I have but one thing to say – grow a pair. This is abuse, this kid is dead. Dead, wrap your mind around that word for a moment. He will never have anymore joy or pleasure. And the reason he is gone is because-
    1. He was taught “the life force is in the blood” and because the invisable man in the sky views it as sacred you must die.
    2. If you give into your fear of death, and accept this transfusion, god views you as a coward, and since you have disappointed him you do not get to live forever in paradise. He was never threatened with hell, JW’s dont believe in a hell.
    3. Listen up! JW’s teach thier flock that blood transfusions are actually physically harmful to you. They cite studies that claim that patients undergoing surgery actually did better when they didn’t receive transfusions when compared to those who did. The claim is made that it takes you longer to heal when you receive a transfusion. Where in the hell do they get this shit you might ask? After the research that I have done, I have come to the conclusion that JW’s twist some obscure studies and blatantly lie. There is simply nothing to support this.
    4. He was told that the blood supply is full of disease and virus.
    5. A foolish judge with weak judgement. This child, and he was a child, could not have possessed the knowledge to make this decision. The judge failed this boy.

    JW’s actually hold regular meetings about the blood “issue”. Power of attorney forms and credit card size “Blood Cards” are passed out. Those who have died because they have refused blood transfusions are held up as hero’s. Articles about the “faithful staying loyal, even up to death” are regularly published in Watchtower and Awake [the 2 magazines JW’s put out] and in their annual yearbook.

    Do I sound a little passionate about this? My wife is still a believer. Two and a half years ago she had to have an emergency C-section. She refused blood even though her bloodcount was low going into the surgery. SHE ALMOST BLEED TO DEATH. The only reason she didn’t was because of one amazing doctor and his staff. Guess who her parents thanked when she made it? I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t the doctor.

    If you teach your children this garbage, and this is but one small piece of the big garbage pie that religion serves, you are abusing them. If they grow up and dont have the rational and critical tools they need, they will be fools and you were a bad parent.

    The world would be better without religion. There is a finite number of societal problems, with religion gone we would have eliminated one of the biggest. I dont think we should shy away from saying so.

  95. #95 Epistaxis
    November 30, 2007

    there is a balancing test of personal autonomy vs. a risk of great bodily harm or death

    This case is special because the “autonomous” individual was a minor; in most other ethical dilemmas, he would not have been treated as autonomous and his aunt would have been held responsible for his well-being. Perhaps the exception was made because religion was involved.

  96. #96 Warren
    November 30, 2007

    Would we all be as outraged about the young man refusing treatment if he hadn’t said it was against his religion but had instead said he didn’t like the odds?

    Posted by: Nan

    I probably wouldn’t because it would be a rational decision based on solid evidence, not the wishes of some emotionally-crippled intellectually backward ninny.

    Religion kills. Funnily enough, the killing started with Jesus. You’d think they’d take that as a warning, rather than engage in ritual cannibalism every Sunday.

  97. #97 noncarborundum
    November 30, 2007

    Speaking of “religion kills”:

    KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) – Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear “Muhammad.”

    No comment necessary.

  98. #98 ryanar
    November 30, 2007

    Terry Schiavo — very similar situation, granted she was in her majority. A court had a proceeding where both sides were allowed to present evidence, a judge declared that Terry Schiavo had chosen to be taken of life support. The christian right (who those who disagree w/ the judge in the present case now echo) claimed the judge was an accessory to killing Terry. …. (we all know the story).

    Point is, competent individuals should have the final say as to whether or not to refuse treatment. This is regardless of how ideologically deluded their particular reasoning might be. Now if they aren’t legally competent – then the state can make decisions for them. Or if they are too young – then have a court proceeding, where both the minor & the state present evidence and a finder of fact determines competency. If the minor is found competent, the minor makes his own choice. But to advocate like MartinM & Peter Ashby, that individual choice be damned and we should impose the preferences of the MartinM’s & Peter Ashby’s of the world in the form of state coercion (they would be so lucky) on an arbitrary basis betrays a lack of systemic thought. Raped 15 year.. abortion o.k., Jehovah witness .. no go, rastafarian with skin cancer … nope, force treatment, atheist doesn’t want priest at death bed… o.k. etc.

  99. #99 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    I’m not a libertarian… I’m just currently studying for the California state bar exam, hence the “coercive power of the state to exercise its monopoly on violence crap”.

    I’m quite surprised about two things here. First, the thin skin of posters like Peter Ashby. And the immediate dismissal of my arguments without an attempt at substantive reply.

    Pharyngula actually used a trope of the right wing in this post. Use a court decision that is on the bounds of what would normally be acceptable, and then let the reflexive indignation ensue. The finder of fact, the judge, was probably wrong in his application of the legal standards… or at the same time, this 14 year could have been really mature. I’m surprise how quickly other posters are to quickly assume that a 14 year can’t be mature enough to be competent merely because of his status as a JW. And yet, I can’t help but doubt that if the shoe were on the other foot, a Christian judge finding a 15 year rape victim not competent because she is an atheist, you guys would be screaming bloody murder. Competency is a question of maturity and ability to rationally consider the consequences of personal decisions, it is not a function of religious belief.

  100. #100 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    I’m not a libertarian… I’m just currently studying for the California state bar exam, hence the “coercive power of the state to exercise its monopoly on violence crap”.

    Given that rhetoric and your misrepresentation and demonization of other points of view:

    I’m also not surprised to see many of the European posters brag about how “here in the U.K. we don’t give a bollocks about someone’s personal decisions.. we just force them down and impose the State’s will upon them…” tripe. That seems pretty consonant with the latent European preference for state coercion & abatement of personal freedoms.

    I still think it was an eminently reasonable assumption that you were an extreme Libertarian.

  101. #101 Zeno
    November 30, 2007

    I have a cousin who did die of leukemia. She was 14, too. Her first bout with the disease was as a very young child. Four or so, as I recall. She was not consulted about treatment, of course, underwent the full chemotherapy regimen, and went into remission. She was healthy for a few years, but it struck her again at 9 or 10. Another round of treatment, another remission. That second round was grueling and lengthy. Then it struck her again in her early teens. Therapy resumed, but this time the illness was more stubborn than ever. This time her parents and her doctors consulted with her at length. The treatments weren’t working. The doctors offered some new therapies. She decided she had suffered enough and didn’t want to undergo anything further. Her parents accepted her decision and she ceased therapy. A few months later she died. This week is actually the anniversay of her death, which was a couple of decades ago.

    She was loved and is still missed. She understood better than most the cost of treatment (which I trust has significantly improved since those days), but it was still a difficult decision. I don’t, however, think the situation is similar to that of the boy in Seattle, for whom treatment had an excellent chance of working. And transfusions are a far cry from chemo. That boy was addled by goofy religious thinking, and that chalks up another pointless death.

  102. #102 Louis
    November 30, 2007

    The comments of some people seem to imply that sincerity of belief is somehow a modifier of whether or not an action is child abuse. I.e. if one sincerely believes one is doing the child some good one cannot by definition be abusing them.

    Great! In that case I have decided to sincerely believe that raping kids, allowing them to bleed to death and flaying their skins to wear as a succession of interesting hats is in their best interest because under my new found belief system this gets them to Heaven+, a better state of Heaven reserved only for them.*

    I wonder how long my religious defense will stand up in court?

    Louis

    * Do I even need to point out that I am not serious about this new found belief and that I am deliberately being vile to emphasis a point.

    P.S. Anyone who thinks that because my new “belief” entails action on my part and the Aunt’s entails inaction, and thus the two are not equatable, has failed to understand.

    P.P.S. There is such a thing as a duty of care. A minor making a potentially life or death decision under the influence of such a religion should be deemed legally incapable of making that decision, as happens here in the UK when they are made a ward of court. Tragic circumstances can and do arise when it might be better for them to be allowed to shuffle off this mortal coil, but that should not be a decision left to someone potentially incompetant to make it. One of the very key and very controversial factors in euthanasia cases is the ability of the person wishing to die to give reasoned and informed consent, free from coercion. Needless to say, under this boy’s family’s religious system a demonstrable level of coercion could be shown to exist, and with his status as a legal minor, he can be deemed legally incapable of giving his reasoned coercion free consent. Note the difference between “really able to give consent” and “legally able to give consent”.

    Also there is a lot of merit in doing the right thing for the right reasons as opposed to doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Allowing religious reasons to trump evidence based ones or even simply legal ones, is a bad precedent to set. It might be that there was a compassionate reason to allow this boy to die, but that is a decision made jointly between him (if he is deemed competent) and his medical team based on the facts of his condition, NOT based on whether or not some unprovable sky pixie will smile upon him if he forgoes medical care. The reason does matter, at least because it sets a precedent (or helps to form a series of precedents).

  103. #103 Louis
    November 30, 2007

    OH yeah, and whoever asked upthread where all the Pro-Life outrage is has hit the nail on the head.

    Forgive my many typos.

    Louis

  104. #104 Moses
    November 30, 2007

    So you’d agree that 8th graders should be allowed to operate chainsaws?

    Posted by: Hank Fox | November 30, 2007 10:47 AM

    I did. So did most of the boys I grew up with. We also had rifles & shotguns. I got my first rifle, a .22 Glenfield (made by Springfield, but the “cheaper” brand), at 8. I also got my first motorcycle, a Honda Trail 70, at 8. At 12 I had a Hodaka 125cc. At 14 I got a .410 (and which got me laughed at because it was a “girls” gun (thanks Dad…)). So at 15 I got 20-gauge Remington Pump and a .30-30 Winchester lever-action. My brother (4-years younger) had a similar pattern, though he didn’t get a .410, they went right to 12-gauge single-shot (he was an ammo hog and they needed to slow him down) at 12-years old with him.

    See, the trick is that by growing up in the country, for at least part of my life, I’ve come to a much different perspective than your average suburbanite. That is, young men, when properly trained and supervised, can (in fact) use heavy equipment and dangerous tools safely.

    Now, on average, I wouldn’t let the average 14-year-old girl (and not all 14-year-old boys) use a chainsaw. You need good upper-body strength to control it, even the modern “safe” ones with the chain-brake. I *think* my wife could do it. She’s got broad, strong shoulders for a woman and I think she’s got the upper-body strength. But my daughter is so petite that I don’t think she could adequately control the saw.

    OTOH, I won’t lend my chainsaw to my suburbanite neighbors and many of them are bigger than me. And I cringe when I watch them mow their lawns in shorts and sandals… And they’re adults, just totally stupid in thinking they’re “perfectly safe” in mowing in sandals.

  105. #105 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    ” Find a news story about a kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity. Are you then going to argue that black culture is child abuse?”
    Posted by: Brandon

    Not at all, I would argue that our mainstream racist culture is child abuse. While there have been changes since my childhood of open segregation & blatant racism, this is still a racist nation. We’ve merely become more genteel about it.
    .

  106. #106 Michele
    November 30, 2007

    The JW’s have cherry-picked their dangerous and evil reason for refusing transfusions – that they should not “eat blood” and become impure. Do they also keep kosher? Those same passages in Mosaic Law that prohibt the “eating” of blood are the basis for kosher and halal (the Islamic dietary laws) that cover how animals are slaughtered (humanely) and how the meat is treated, what animals are edible, etc. They actually make a lot of sense – IF you live a nomadic life in the desert without refrigeration. But, as usual, the religious nutters just pick up on some weird detail and run with it.

  107. #107 Brandon
    November 30, 2007

    I was so confused. I thought I had a good analogy there. There is a subset (a much smaller one than some people would have you believe) of black culture that glorifies gang activity. Similarly, there is a subset of religion that can lead people to death. But obviously, not all black people act like the stereotype. So shouldn’t the same caution against stereotyping apply to religious people, too?

    I didn’t get why people thought I was being racist. I mean, wasn’t the whole point of the analogy how absurd that stereotype is? That’s when it occured to me, that you guys were reading the analogy in the opposite direction. That is, you read the part about religion, applied that logic to the part about black people, and concluded that I was stereotyping all black people.

    That’s when it hit me. The majority of you genuinely believe that all religious people act like this child and his aunt. So, congratulations, you have officially scared me away from ever commenting on this blog again. Consider yourselves victorious.

    By the way, encouraging your child to kill himself is child abuse. There is a difference between suicide and moderate faith. Figure it out.

  108. #108 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Thalarctos: How could I be a libertarian is I believe that it is the state that should determine competency in cases of minority or inability to represent one’s self (Terry Schiavo)? A libertarian wouldn’t want the state involved at any point of the process.

    Is this kid’s death pointless and dispositive of the deluded nature of religion – yes. But does that give the state the right to then impose the ideological views of the majority on a competent person’s personal medical decisions (Thalarctos thinks that making your own medical decisions is heehee… “extreme libertarianism”).

    I have several fundy Catholic friends who believe that Zeno’s young cousin shouldn’t have been given the decision to cease what could possibly of been life saving chemo – and the state should have forced her to have it done out of their version of “respect for life”. But the right decision is, assuming competency (or if it is disputed – a finding of competency by a court), the decision is entirely that of the patient.

    To any thinking person, this is hardly a position held only by extreme libertarians.

  109. #109 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    You’re under no obligation to agree with my position, but you could at least make some token effort to honestly engage with it.

    But to advocate like MartinM & Peter Ashby, that individual choice be damned and we should impose the preferences of the MartinM’s & Peter Ashby’s of the world in the form of state coercion (they would be so lucky) on an arbitrary basis betrays a lack of systemic thought.

    I’ll take that as a ‘no,’ then.

  110. #110 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Louis: Would you apply your “duty of care” to Zeno’s niece? A fundy Catholic or Evangelical would use your argument and say “How can a 14 year old refuse potentially life saving chemo, even if it didn’t work in the past, it might work now. Who cares what she wants, its child abuse to let her chose to refuse and die”

    Or what about adult incompetents? Let’s apply your “duty of care” to them….

    “Hell, let’s keep Terry Schiavo on life support as a vegtable for decades, who cares what she wanted, we respect life in this state and that means not letting anyone die by pulling the plug”

    Granted, this particular case in Seattle is at the extreme edge of personal autonomy & imposition of a duty of care. I say, give the kid his day in court. He had to present evidence and prove to a judge that he was competent. I know many many teenagers who are competent to make their own decisions. This guy proved his competence, let his own personal decision stand. A competent decision (however ideologically deluded) trumps the “duty of care” of others almost every time.

  111. #111 John C. Randolph
    November 30, 2007

    With all the Libertarian-bashing going on here, I feel compelled to speak up. I’m a hard-line Libertarian myself, and I would not leave a life-or-death decision in the hands of a minor, or a person who was mentally incompetent. The judge screwed up, and allowed the kid to commit suicide.

    -jcr

  112. #112 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    Thalarctos thinks that making your own medical decisions is heehee… “extreme libertarianism”

    More misrepresentation. I said your rhetoric was consonant with extreme libertarianism, especially how you demonize and misrepresent others’ positions (see blockquote above for yet another example to add to your previous ones). The fact that you need to twist it into a flat-out lie reveals a great deal about your lack of character.

    Unfortunately, your misrepresentations aren’t even as funny as Brian Macker and his he-bears were; you’re just a sad, pathetic liar who’s about as provocative as a cow buzzing around a swarm of gnats and congratulating herself on how she’s gotten under all our skins.

    Given the lack of integrity you’ve demonstrated in your comments, mazel tov on finding a sucker here to take your bait and engage with you.

  113. #113 Phillipe Farneti
    November 30, 2007

    Once again, this why I am pagan and think for MYSELF. Screw orthodox religion. I don’t need some holier then thou preacher that molests little boys telling ME how to live MY life.

  114. #114 Peter Ashby
    November 30, 2007

    ryanar think a moment about what happens in the European system. The state actually has the interests of the guardians at heart too, if the kid dies they can be charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life. That is serious jail time.

    So under our system what actually happens.

    1. Assuming medical efficacy, everyone lives.

    2. Nobody has to do jail time.

    I call that a damned good outcome all around. Or are you sanguine about kids dying and their parents going to jail?

  115. #115 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    Brian Macker and his he-bears

    …?!

  116. #116 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Actually, a word search of this page shows that you haven’t used the word “consonant” until your last post. You unmitigatedly called me an extreme libertarian. I slapped you around, and now your pouting.

    I’m really sad to see you descend into attacking my character.

    Next thing, you’ll be posting little rhetorical treasures such as QED and LOL and ROFLAO.

    Come on bitch, quite pouting and get back into the real game of arguing substantively, I can take it.

  117. #117 shiftlessbum
    November 30, 2007

    Since this is a place to voice our unasked-for opinions, I figure I’ll toss in my $0.02. PZ has got it right; religious delusion killed this poor boy. Ryana has also got it right; the boy was judged to be competent* to make his own choices and the state ought not to intervene in cases like this, irrespective of the depths of crazy that drive those choices.

    *I make no claim on the veracity of this judgement; I know nothing, nada, zilcherino, about the facts in the case. For the purpose of my otherwise worthless opining above, I accept that the judge used sound reasoning and properly applied law and precendent in his(?) decision.

  118. #118 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    The finder of fact, the judge, was probably wrong in his application of the legal standards… or at the same time, this 14 year could have been really mature.

    I say, give the kid his day in court. He had to present evidence and prove to a judge that he was competent. I know many many teenagers who are competent to make their own decisions. This guy proved his competence, let his own personal decision stand.

    No wonder you have so much trouble comprehending the positions of others. You don’t even have a coherent position yourself.

  119. #119 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    Brian Macker and his he-bears

    …?!

    Some Libertarian I was arguing with on another thread who went off on my handle (obsolete genus name for polar bears) because I’m female, and bears are (to him) male. PZ pointed out that half of all bears are female, and he argued that the actual biology didn’t matter, because bears are conceptually male.

    If this were PZ’s old place, I could use the search feature to search comments and bring back that discussion–I think it’s a classic–but here, search gets articles, but not comments.

  120. #120 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    I was going to give this thread a pass, but then I clicked through and read the news story. Sheeeesh!

    First, let me say that the decision to refuse medical treatment is not quite the same as “euthenasia.” I think the right of a fully informed, mentally functional adult to refuse treatment is an important thing to preserve. That said….

    Suppose this 14-year old had, rather than refusing lifesaving medical treatment, consented to a sexual relationship with an adult? In that case, could this judge possibly have said, “He is mature and understands the consequences of his decision”? Absolutely not! He would immediately rule that the youth was not mature enough to give that consent, and that the adult involved was subject to charges of statutory rape, no matter what the child said he wanted.

    Well, surely the decision to refuse lifesaving medical treatment is at least as consequential as the decision to have sex. So in what convoluted version of law or logic can we endorse the former while absolutely denying the latter? (Aside: Yes, I know that a tiny handful of U.S. states allow for sexual consent at 14, but only under very special circumstances; I stand by my general point.) This judge allowed this child make an irrevocable, fatal decision over the objections of his parents. WTF??

    Now as to the prognosis: I’m no doctor, but unfortunately I have some experience with childhood cancer, and how doctors talk about prognoses. Some folks in this thread seem to be taking the 70 percent chance of 5-year survival mentioned in the article as meaning the best the kid could hope for was 5 more years; that’s not what it means! It means that in 70 percent of similar cases, the child will still be alive 5 years hence. In many of those cases, the child will be alive because s/he’s healthy and cancer-free… which is to say, cured!

    At age 10 my daughter was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on the brain, and when we met with her oncologist, he gave us almost exactly that 70 percent prognosis for 5-year survival. She’s now 17, and last week we bought her first car, which is distracting her from finishing the last of her college applications (Yale, Wesleyan, Tufts, Georgetown, Boston University, UConn). She’s been entirely free of detectable cancer for 6 years (essentially since the day of her surgery), and it’s been more than 5 years since her treatment was successfully completed. Now, admittedly there’s some difference in the course of leukemia, as compared to solid-tumor cancers, but a number of my daughter’s fellow patients were battling leukemia, and several of them have had similarly successful outcomes. The point is, that 5-year survival prediction does not necessarily mean this boy was in the middle of an inevitable 5-year descent to death.

    I can also tell you that someone that young who’s in the throes of fighting cancer is in no emotional state to be making life-and-death decisions. Parents are there to protect kids from themselves in these situations… and judges should back them up!

    ****

    Note: I’ve been pecking away at this all day, while I’ve been also trying to work. Forgive me if it’s been superseded or preempted by other posts, but I had to get it off my chest in any case.

  121. #121 MartinM
    November 30, 2007

    Actually, a word search of this page shows that you haven’t used the word “consonant” until your last post.

    Correct. The concept, on the other hand, is present in post #99. Ctrl-F doesn’t comprehend basic English any more than you do.

  122. #122 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    “I was so confused. I thought I had a good analogy there.”
    “I didn’t get why people thought I was being racist.”

    Brandon,
    the problem is your comment was not a good analogy. Your racism is readily apparent in your statement, “Find a news story about a kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity. Are you then going to argue that black culture is child abuse?”. You imply that “a kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity” would be black. There are plenty of gangbangers who are white, yellow or brown in Chicago. Your implication that they would be black is racist. This has absolutely nothing to do with your assumption that you are accused of “stereotyping all black people”.

    Your projection that, “you guys” “genuinely believe that all religious people act like this” has nothing to do with my criticism of your posting as there was no comment about religion in my response.

  123. #123 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Peter Ashby: I actually agree with your system – most of the time – as long as it doesn’t trump personal autonomy.

    How do you deal with the very similar issues of right to die for adults? Would the European system force Terry Schiavo to stay a vegtable? Does Europe deny adults the right to chose not to be recessitated (sp)?

    In Europe, are all minors absolutely denied all autonomy over their bodies? For example, can a raped 15 year old get an abortion over the objections of her parents?

  124. #124 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    MartinM seems to represent that little slice of non-believers who are more than willing to overthrow the priest class, not to bring freedom from ideological chains religion imposes, but rather to take their place.

  125. #125 shiftlessbum
    November 30, 2007

    Bill Dauphin;

    YAY for your daughter! How nice to hear. Of course NOW you have to worry about her driving that car.

    One thing that you and another psoter up-thread mentioned, I want to comment on; it is dangerous to regard “leukemias” as a single kind of cancer. Leukemia actually describes a set of “liquid” tumors derived from a variety leukocytes. So while it IS true that some kinds of leukemias are highly treatable, some are not. I *do* agree that any claim of potential survival is fraught with uncertainty, but it is risky to make claims that this boys cancer was treatable. We (here on this blog…or at least *I*) simply don’t know.

  126. #126 psiloiordinary
    November 30, 2007

    Why not assume for a moment that this kid did not actually believe.

    Let’s look at if this is a stupid assumption.

    He knows that if he takes the blood then his parents and probably everyone he knows will never talk to him again.

    Leaving aside the question of “genuine” belief and “brain washing” isn’t the threat of being cut off from everyone he knows, coercion enough?

  127. #127 Anonomouse
    November 30, 2007

    Meh, Good Riddance!

    One less door knocker to bother me at 9am.

  128. #128 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Good point psiloiordinary. Throwing in the issue of coercion into the calculus definitely unbalances the equation as I was looking at it.

    As someone involved in the law, I base my thinking not just on the abstract issue of “was this the proper decision” but also on the mechanics how to determine proper process as well. My answer would be to have the court appoint a social worker to interview the kid & make a report on the issue of coercion. Coercion should definitely be an issue that is given weight when a court determines the competency of a minor to chose to refuse medical treatment.

  129. #129 PZ Myers
    November 30, 2007

    I scared another one away? I am so going to stamp yet another broken cross logo on the side of my cockpit.

    And no, sorry, we don’t believe all religious people will act as this one did, allowing their child to die out of fear of breaking the commandments of their dopey religion. Most would abandon their faith around that point. What I would hope to do is encourage more to wake up and realize what nonsense they’re endorsing now, before they do so under the duress of danger.

  130. #130 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    Bill, I second shiftlessbum’s cheer for your daughter’s recovery!

  131. #131 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    Zeno:

    She decided she had suffered enough and didn’t want to undergo anything further. Her parents accepted her decision and she ceased therapy. A few months later she died.

    First, my condolences.

    Next, your cousin’s case is entirely different from the one under discussion here. She made her decision rationally, based on her own feelings and the objective evidence of her own life, and in consultation with the adults charged with her care. I commend her for showing wisdom beyond her years.

    But the unfortunate Denis Lindberg didn’t (as far as we know) end his treatment because he was tired of fighting, or because he didn’t want to live; he ended his treatment because he’d been told terrifying tales of eternal damnation by adults who should have cared more about his wellbeing than about church dogma… but who apparently did not. He did not, like your cousin, calculate that he was probably going to die anyway and choose the most peaceful course; instead, he had every reason to believe he could live, and chose to die nevertheless because he’d been taught to fear a nonexistent Hell. [sigh]

    If Denis had made this decision with the agreement of his parents, I’d still think it was a stupid and tragic decision, but I wouldn’t think the judge was wrong. Adults have the right to make stupid and tragic decisions for themselves, but adults — whether they be judges or parents — are supposed to help children avoid making stupid and tragic decisions while they’re still in “training.”

    The weird thing is that the religious right is all about parental authority and autonomy when it suits them; where were they in this case?

  132. #132 S.G
    November 30, 2007

    “But, we’re talking about possibly prolonging the life of a minor who is under 18” Your assumption is that the blood transfusion will “prolong” life… How come the doctors didn’t give the kid 100% chance of survival?

    Here, I will try to explain it to you in a away that you can probably understand. Let Say a criminal brakes into your home and say that you do not allow him to rape you, rape your kid and murder your dog he will shoot you… mmmm… what do you do? Let’s pretend you don’t like your kid that much nor your dog… and you say yes. What are you chances that he will let you let you live? How would you feel if after all the pain and suffering of you and your families you still get killed? Even worst, what if you survive and now have to live without everything you lived for and the things you loved and though important in life? What about your conscience?

    Well.. Obviously this is very drastic but it does closely represent how important it’s to Jehovah witnesses, believes and their relationship with God.

    In today’s world people kill others in the name of religion, they perform terrorist attacks and even send people to war in the name of God and religion, sometimes to kill people from their own religions.

    Here we have a boy that truly believed in God and the bible, (the bible does say Gods forbids the use of blood transfusion)… the bible also speaks of paradise and eternal life and what will happen to people that are willing to give their own life to follow and respect God’s words.

    Now, region is all about faith, the kid had faith. Now let’s pretend (for those that don’t believe in God) that god exists, and that the bible is God’s word.

    Results? Kids will eventually be resurrected and live for eternity knowing that he did what God wanted to do (based on what the bible says).

    Now, let’s pretend there is no God and the kid is forced to get a transfusion by people like you and…

    A) Kid dies anyways?
    B) Kid survives and still dies months later due to complications knowing that his body was raped against his will? How will he live the last days of his life?
    C) Survives but gets other complications due to blood transfusion and will never have a normal life; probably a painful one.

    I can tell you by experience. There are lots of alternatives to blood transfusions.

    Blood transfusion guarantees nothing, but the violation of the person body and will, and if the bible is God’s word; a violation of his commandments.

    At least this kid was willing to sacrifice his own life for his faith and God instead of what many of you would do. Sacrifice someone else life for your believe.

    These kinds of things are hard to understand for many people since their faith if any is conditional and circumstantial. The strength of their faith depends on how their life is affected at the moment.

    I wish one day I eventually have the faith and strength this kid had. This kid represents the reason why God loves humanity.

  133. #133 Louis
    November 30, 2007

    Ryana,

    You missed the bit at the end about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. In fact it seems you stopped at the first sentence. I think, with respect, you need to read what I wrote again. You’ve in part, misunderstood.

    I expressedly was not making a black and white case. This kid was under the influence of what could be deemed coercion. That immediately places doubt on his ability to give reasoned consent free from coercion. A different kid might lack that coercion and thus be in a different set of circumstances.

    The parallel I was drawing was with the euthanasia issue: imagine the scenario of a perfectly mentally compentent 80 year old who is suffering from a physically disabling degenerative disease. He or she is capable of giving their consent to die, but is it that simple? Are they a “burden” on their children? Can the family afford the care this person increasingly requires? Does this presumption of “burden” on the part of the patient constitute a coercion? I.e. does the person feel that they are a burden to their family and thus wish to hasten their end to spare others? It’s issues like this that riddle the euthanasia issue. Incidentally I am strongly in favour of euthanasia as long as the person can give reasoned, as coercion free as it is possible to ascertain, consent.

    Legal consent is a very key issue here too. Notice I made that distinction before, a distinction that has been ignored. Regardless of this boy’s individual ability he is legally a minor. Would you have him in court defending his right to have sex with an adult because he wants to, for example? The law, rightly or wrongly, has to draw a line somewhere on the age of being able to give legal consent to an issue. The duty of care applies to all people but most particularly to those people deemed legally (whatever the biological or psychological facts of the matter) incapable to give their reasoned consent.

    The case of Terri Schiavo is a red herring. There was no Terri Schiavo to keep alive, and IIRC her medical team and her next of kin had given their consent for life support to be removed, it was only the intervention of religious bigots that prolonged her “life”. The situation is manifestly different. Also, the irony being that where were the religious bigots fighting this boy’s death? It rather seems that certain sections of the religious community want to have their cake and eat it.

    Do you understand the distinctions I’m making?

    Louis

  134. #134 MAJeff
    November 30, 2007

    SG,

    What a sad and pathetic life you must lead. Wishing for faith in a fairy tale, so much faith that you’d rather die than test that fairy tale. Truly sad.

  135. #135 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Here’s another scenario. I have a friend who is crazy afraid of germs. She’s an atheist as well. She’s 17. Dying of hepatitis is her worse phobia. I can honestly see her refusing a blood transfusion out of an irrational fear of infection.

    Should she be able to refuse life saving medical treatment? She is equally deluded as the JW. A minor. But this time it isn’t a faith-based but rather a personal phobia that motivates the refusal.

  136. #136 Becca
    November 30, 2007

    On an email list I follow, someone said something that seems appropriate here:

    “I respect everybody’s right to believe whatever they want, and “I will defend to the death their right to believe it,”; but that doesn’t mean I must respect the BELIEFS. And in most cases I don’t.”

  137. #137 Scrofulum
    November 30, 2007

    In the UK, under 16’s have to be shown to be “Gillick competent” in order to assess their capacity for making decisions relating to their medical treatment, so a 13 year olds might be deemed to have capacity and a less mature 14 year old may not. It could arguably have been used to overule a similar case here.
    One argument against it is that it gives medical staff ultimate control over a patient’s decision, and that sort of paternalism is old-fashioned in patient-centred care.

    Personally, I’m not sure anyone who makes life or death decisions based on their religion is the full ticket, and ought to have medical paternalism rammed down their sanctimonious gobs until they’re feeling better and can complain afterwards about how the hospital went against God and saved their life.

    But that’s just me.

    Oh, a link if’n you’re interested: http://confidential.oxfordradcliffe.net/Gillick

  138. #138 Louis
    November 30, 2007

    “That’s when it hit me. The majority of you genuinely believe that all religious people act like this child and his aunt. So, congratulations, you have officially scared me away from ever commenting on this blog again. Consider yourselves victorious.”

    Brandon,

    In a word: no. I would be very surprised if anyone here thought all religious people act like this aunt and the child. The reason I would be very surprised is because such a thought would be in opposition to the available evidence, and most people here, myself included, are concerned with the evidence.

    Sadly, people like you seem to find any criticism of religion, at its extremes or at its more moderate areas, as an extremist position. You’re wrong, we can go into a long discussion about why you’re wrong, but I’m guessing you’re simply concern trolling as opposed to trying to have a reasoned discourse. If that’s a mistake on my part I apologise, but sadly, I’m seeing all to frequent a pattern these days, and it’s the world over.

    Louis

  139. #139 Dustin
    November 30, 2007

    S.G., I find your sadomasochistic rape and snuff fantasies to be very compelling and I can only say that I sincerely hope that someday you will have the opportunity to prove your faith in the same way.

    Someday very, very soon.

  140. #140 Ty
    November 30, 2007

    Just would like to point out to Jerry Jones that his beliefs are exactly as laughable as the JW’s.

    Don’t come here pointing and laughing at someone else’s religion while you wave your own religion around.

    They are all equally stupid.

  141. #141 Sven DiMilo
    November 30, 2007

    “the bible does say Gods forbids the use of blood transfusion”
    uh huh. What’s the bible’s position on Positron Emission Tomography?
    Do you handle rattlesnakes and drink arsenic too?

    It’s bad enough that the Book of Holy Words is ridiculously self-contradictory and empirically cobbled together by committees of people, but you nuts have to add your own ridiculous interpretations to the mix.
    Unbelievable.

  142. #142 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Louis: Good points. However, I maintain my disagreement.

    Terry Schiavo, while not directly on point, isn’t a red herring. It was case that involved the right to die of an incompetent person.

    In the present case, I think the main point of disagreement and source of outrage is the tender age of the individual making the decision – 14. For example, if this kids was 19, a JW and chose to refuse the transfusion – I doubt any of us, except for MartinM, would advocate forcing him to get the treatment. I don’t want to speak for you, so if you disagree, please let me know. (I do enjoy casting aspersions at MartinM and his neo-facist European model of ant colony style automaton ideals though). It just as we turn the age dial down – 18 still o.k. – 17 maybe – 16 start having a problem – 15 o.k. is this where we draw the line – 14 “my god, this is child abuse!” – etc.

    For me, I greatly value personal autonomy in medical decisions as I greatly value a women’s control over her body & respect the right of the terminally ill to end their own life. In an attempt to stay consistent, I personally believe that every opportunity should be given for competent people to freely make their own medical choices without MartinM’s state coercion or religions pushing their dogma into it. This way the raped 15 year girl gets her abortion, Terry Schiavo gets to die and not be a vegetable and an 80 year old with terminal cancer can pass with dignity and with his family in the the privacy of his home. If a 14 year old asserts his right to make his own medical decisions, and he is found legally competent to do so – then we all need to stand back and let him do it. However, issues such as religious and familial coercion should be considered by the court when determining legal competence – so in that matter, I actually agree with you. This is obviously a tough case that really pushes the arguments in favor of personal autonomy/right to refuse to the edge. That said, a neutral trier of fact did review the evidence, interview the child, etc. and determine competency. Given that check in the process, I still favor this kid’s right to refuse.

  143. #143 Sven DiMilo
    November 30, 2007

    Those same passages in Mosaic Law that prohibt the “eating” of blood are the basis for kosher and halal (the Islamic dietary laws) that cover how animals are slaughtered (humanely) and how the meat is treated, what animals are edible, etc.

    Not true. The JWs cite a passage from Acts, which is New Testament. Most Xians would argue that they are not bound by Mosaic Law because JC initiated a “New Covenant” that supercedes the Old one.
    But of course it’s just as silly.

  144. #144 Louis
    November 30, 2007

    Ryana,

    No, she shouldn’t.

    Again which part of “reasoned consent, free from obvious coercion” is eluding you? Delusional beliefs are not limited to religion (shock horror, news of the century!). People suffering from phobias or other demonstrable psychopathy need help and reassurance and possibly therapy when it comes to making big decisions. Just like you don;t let anorexic people have ultimate control over their diet, they are not acting in a demonstrably psychologically healthy fashion.

    Obviously there are going to be border line cases and trgedies that are unavoidable. The idea is to cast the net in such a way that as few people as possible fall through it. It’s a very difficult thing to do, and undoubtedly some people WILL fall through whatever one does. That is not an argument for doing nothing, nor is it an argument for allowing anything.

    Louis

    P.S. Scrofulum, I was wondering when Gillick competence was going too come up! Thanks! Good point. Sometimes, whether we like it or not, there is a good reason in medical care for the doctor to intervene against the patient’s wishes and to act in their interest when they are incapable of doing so themselves. Sometimes, whether we like it or not, there isn’t. Tricky! 😉

  145. #145 Carlie
    November 30, 2007

    There is a difference between suicide and moderate faith. Figure it out.

    Yep, there is, from what I can tell. Moderate faith is saying that you have faith, while acting entirely as if you don’t, because you don’t allow that “faith” to intrude on your life at all and force you to make illogical decisions. In other words, “moderate faith” is equivalent to atheism, because people of “moderate faith” do not follow any rules in the Bible.

    However, an awful lot of people DO follow those rules. There are many, many more Christian zealots in the world than you realize, and they manifest in many different ways. Abstinence-only education has absolutely zero shreds of evidence for working, yet are pushed by “people of faith”. And then their kids get pregnant and/or sexually transmitted disease as a direct result. People pray for healing and avoid going to the doctor until their conditions are too serious for easy treatment, and often die as a result.

    The difference between suicide and moderate faith is the difference between faith and no faith.

  146. #146 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    Brandon (#16 & #106)-

    The gang analogy is not apt.

    1) Cultures do not order by fiat that members deny themselves routine medical treatments with 70% success rates.

    2) Gangs in particular are not passed from the parents to the children. I have no evidence to support this assertion at the moment aside from my intuition, but I suspect any gang members old enough to have children old enough to enter a gang would be against the proposition. At the very least, we can expect parents of gang members to not be practicing gang members.

    3) It may be undeniable that a small minority of black (or, indeed, ANY) culture glorifies gang activity. But it is only in religion that we can find a vast majority of a religious culture glorifying the refusal of simple and lifesaving medical treatments to their children.

    If you want to be a moderate Christian, fine. Be my guest. I really couldn’t care less about you. But if you harm or allow harm to come to a child, you have all of society to answer to. And no amount of simpering behind your irrational faith will save you from that.

    I think this aunt should be treated as if she taught Lindberg to play Russian Roulette. They were both playing the same dangerous game, but Dennis’ chamber had a bullet in it.

  147. #147 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    SG (#131) –

    A) Kid dies anyways?
    B) Kid survives and still dies months later due to complications knowing that his body was raped against his will? How will he live the last days of his life?
    C) Survives but gets other complications due to blood transfusion and will never have a normal life; probably a painful one.

    You forgot option (D):
    Kid survives, grows up, goes to college, falls in love, gets married, has kids, buys a house, and lives happily for the rest of his natural life.

  148. #148 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Louis: So according to you. Any refusal of treatment = diagnosis incompetence? Now there is a real thought position. The point is, when I make my personal medical decisions, I don’t have to give a fu$# what you or MartinM, or the priest at the corner church or pastor Bob thinks. As long as I’m competent, it’s my body, my decision. Now, I’m sure you and Pastor Bob mean well, and have the best intentions motivated your personal belief systems when you show up and try and tell others what they have to do, but get out of my doctor’s examining room.

    Competence doesn’t equal Einstein on his best day. Competent people have phobias, they have deluded beliefs – hey wait, every single person alive has phobias and deluded beliefs…..

  149. #149 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    Shiftlessbum:

    Leukemia actually describes a set of “liquid” tumors derived from a variety leukocytes. So while it IS true that some kinds of leukemias are highly treatable, some are not. I *do* agree that any claim of potential survival is fraught with uncertainty, but it is risky to make claims that this boys cancer was treatable.

    Yah, I thought about discussing this in my original post. The leukemia cases among my daughter’s fellow patients overwhelmingly fell into two types (whose names I’ve forgotten, but I gathered they are by far and away the most prevalent types of pediatric leukemia). One had a very unfavorable prognosis, and indeed most of the kids we know with that diagnosis eventually died; the other had a very high cure rate. I never knew anyone with the former diagnosis who was ever given anything like 70 percent 5-year survival odds, so I’m guessing Lindberg’s diagnosis was the latter type.

    Of course, there are certainly other types of pediatric leukemia beyond the most common two, and in any case generalities don’t necessarily apply to individual cases… but I think it’s telling that he apparently didn’t argue that he was going to die anyway; only that he had the right to refuse the on religious grounds. Thus, it’s impossible to know for sure, but it’s reasonable to guess that he had at least the hope of recovery, and turned away from that hope because of the poison his mind had been filled with.

    As an aside to those who haven’t been through chemotherapy, keep in mind that the blood transfusion isn’t intended to treat the cancer, but to counteract the deleterious effects of the chemo. In addition, leukemia therapy often involved bone marrow transplantation, and Dog knows what JWs think of that.

    PS: Thanks to those who’ve cheered my daughter’s recovery. I wish you all similar good outcomes whenever trouble comes into your lives, as it does for all of us.

  150. #150 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    MY DOCTOR’S EXAMINING ROOM IS SURE GETTING CROWDED.

    First, it was just me, my body and the doctor. The the Catholic church wanted to show and make sure I didn’t get any birth control. Then the Evangelicals wanted in to make sure I didn’t get an abortion. The the Republicans wanted in to make sure that I didn’t any Medicare. And now, PZ, Louis, MartinM and the atheists want in to make sure I’m ideologically sterile enough to make decisions they agree with.

    ??? ???????? ?????? ???? ?????????? ????-?????????
    ????????????, ???-???????.

  151. #151 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    I can tell you by experience. There are lots of alternatives to blood transfusions.

    Not for chemo patients, there aren’t: Blood cells are constantly dying and being replaced by the body; chemo attacks (along with attacking the cancer) the body’s ability to make new blood cells, and as a result, both red and white cell counts go way down. If they go down far enough, it’s life-threatening in itself; in any case, low blood counts cause delays in the therapy, and delays reduce the likelihood of positive outcomes. Keeping blood counts up is vital to successful chemo, and sometimes there’s just no substitute for transfusion.

  152. #152 Louis
    November 30, 2007

    Ryana,

    Again, no! Are you actually reading what I am writing? I’m not sure it’s possible for me to be clearer. You seem to be under the impression I am a pro-lifer of some sort, let me assure you I’m very, very much not!

    People can refuse treatment for rational reasons, as I’ve stated, people can also refuse treatment for irrational ones. Those people deemed to be capable of rationally refusing treatment, free from coercion etc, will be permitted to do so. Those people who are either deemed incompetent by virtue of their psychological issues (i.e an obvious and well diagnosed mental disease) or by virtue of external coercion will not. It’s nothing to do with ideological sterility or any of your other hysterical misreadings. And no one is telling you what you can do with your body! Please don’t create silly strawmen out of thin air.

    Otherwise intelligent people can make poor decisions based on mental illness for example. This is obviously a serious problem, and it’s a soluble one. If they are deemed unable to give RATIONAL, REASONED consent (see those words? They’re kind of key) then they will be treated despite their objections. However, if they are not demonstrably mentally ill then they have every right to refuse treatment, a right I support them in 110%. I am also a supporter of euthanasia, but again the patient has to be mentally competent, and as free as it is possible to ascertain from external coercion. In the case of this young lad he was demonstrably competent but NOT demonstrably free from external coercion, ergo he should have been made a ward of court (or whatever the USA equivalent is).

    The point you are missing is that what PZ and Martin and I are advocating is PRECISELY what your doctor does. We are not crowding into the surgery with you, nor are we imposing (or seeking to impose) anything upon you in the manner the religious people you mention are. Your doctor assesses your ability to decide to forgo treatment on exactly the basis I describe already. I think you really need to stop being bloody silly quite frankly.

    Louis

  153. #153 JimC
    November 30, 2007

    From above number #131.

    S.G.- This is the reason God loves humanity? A boy getting a horrible disease, being pumped full of lies about blood transfusions, and then passing away?

    Your version of love and goodness seems not to be rational.

    A child died you blind goof, dead, d-e-a-d. A potential glorious life gone. That is a tragedy no matter the faith.

  154. #154 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    {shrug} If you’re not denying simple and proven medical treatment what will save your life, I couldn’t give a flying grok about what happens in your doctor’s examining room.

    Hell, if you’re denying it for a reasoned choice like euthanasia, I’d respect that.

    If you’re denying it based on a verse in a book that was written many centuries before said treatment was developed and you’re a mature, reasoning adult, I’d be kind of bummed that a mature, reasoning adult could be so ass-backwards on medicine.

    If you’re a child denying it based on what your guardian told you about a verse in a book that was written many centuries before said treatment was developed, I’d help string up your guardian for filling your head with such lethal lunacy.

    N.B., I never once said I’d force anything on you.

    Cheers.

  155. #155 Zeno
    November 30, 2007

    Bill Dauphin (#130): Next, your cousin’s case is entirely different from the one under discussion here.

    Which is the point I made myself in my original post (#100). She had good reason to believe that another remission was beyond reach. She made a difficult and thoughtful decision, in consultation with her parents and doctors, to decline further treatment. She used her remaining weeks to shop for Christmas presents for her family members and observe one last Thanksgiving with them. She died in the interval between the holidays, but the presents she selected were under the tree at Christmas. Her decision, as difficult as it was, was based more on information than on superstition. The young Jehovah’s Witness based his decision on a tortuous reading of Bible verses (which are even more distorted in the highly idiosyncratic JW translation). Not a good basis on which to choose to die.

    Bill, I am very happy for you and your daughter that her case turned out so much better.

  156. #156 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Louis:”I am also a supporter of euthanasia, but again the patient has to be mentally competent, and as free as it is possible to ascertain from external coercion.”

    Ah, but the devil seems to be in the definitions. And who defines “external coercion”? For you, religious belief = external coercion and so now you have an excuse to stand next to the Pastor Bob and Farther Martinez in the examining room. Such a broad definition obviates your pretended position in favor of personal autonomy.

  157. #157 JY
    November 30, 2007

    @121

    Your racism is readily apparent in your statement, “Find a news story about a kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity. Are you then going to argue that black culture is child abuse?”. You imply that “a kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity” would be black.

    I think you’re a bit quick to throw out accusations of racism. Remember, it’s his analogy, and in his analogy, that the kid is black is one of the givens. It’s not like he is reading a story about a kid in Chicago, and jumping to the conclusion that the kid is black. He invented the kid, and he might as easily, have written “Find a news story about a black kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity…”, which, I assume, is what he intended. Whether it’s an apt analogy is another story.

  158. #158 Spaulding
    November 30, 2007

    I lost a great-grandmother to nonsense like this. More importantly, my grandfather grew up without a mother because of it. Still, I’m of the philosophy that a competant individual should be free to make self-destructive decisions. When these decisions regard intrusive health measures, they are an especially inviolate right.

    My experience is that many 14-year-olds should be judged to have competant personal autonomy. And I’m sure that staring death in the face helps mature anyone. So I don’t see a reason to fault the judge here. (The aunt should be ashamed and at least ostricized by family and friends.)

    For the record, I’m also in favor of supervised chainsaw use by 14-year-olds.

  159. #159 RamblinDude
    November 30, 2007

    Brandon: “Similarly, there is a subset of religion that can lead people to death.”

    A subset?

    How many people are going to die needlessly because of superstitious taboos against stem cell research? It hasn’t been suppressed by a “subset”; it is mainstream religion in America.

    How many children have gotten the advice: “When you’re in a bad situation, just start praying to Jesus and he will save you.”

    On digg, just moments ago, was an article that said more people believe in the devil than in evolution. This is going to lead to a happy, productive, safe future?

    Right now in this country, millions believe that we are in the “Last days” and that Jesus is going to return in a cloud of glory in the very near future. Many of them are waiting expectantly for the Rapture. They will think nothing of the rivers of blood that will flow in the Armageddon they believe in–if they are allowed to bring it about. These fanatics do not belong to a small religious subset.

    The population, in general, is getting fatter and stupider, and they are voting into the highest offices their members, people who think–in the twenty first century–that the world is only six thousand years old. We have already seen the danger of electing people this dumb into the office of the presidency, and it looks like it could very well happen again.

    There are degrees of fanaticism, and this boy’s dying crosses a line of common sense that most people–even religious people–wouldn’t cross. But the vast majority of religious people– to some extent– are burdened with the same handicap as this boy and his aunt–the exact same adherence to superstitious dogma is interfering with their smarts

  160. #160 Louis
    November 30, 2007

    No Kyana, not all religious belief = external coercion. A religious belief that is demonstably at odds with a patient’s survival, and a vulnerable patient having that religious belief enforced by a caring relative who thinks they are acting in the patient’s best interest, when they are DEMONSTRABLY not, is external coercion. Again, I am at a loss to see how this distinction is escaping you.

    Like I said, it’s a difficult thing to demonstrate. Euthanasis and refusal of treatment should be possible, that doesn’t mean they should be easy, or that doctors should fail in their duty of care to thier patients.

    And yet again you miss the key point that I am not standing in the examination room, nor do I have any wish to, I am describing (and advocating) something that doctors ALREADY do. And I’m not pretending to advocate 100% personal autonomy. Try reading for basic comprehension Ryana. If someone is incapable of giving their REASONED consent then they will be treated against their will. That is expressly not an incidence of advocating the primacy of personal autonomy. It amounts to nothing more sinister and intrusive than the simple statement that sometimes, just sometimes, your doctor knows better than you do what is good for you. I’m out of the picture, so please stop hysterically and erroneously trying to bring me back in. One might almost think you were concern trolling for kicks.

    I’ve even previously mentioned the borderline cases, i.e. those people who will be deemed competent but are not and those people who are deemed not competent but are. This is an unavoidable scenario. Whatever limits we set this will always happen. Even if we set no limits at all, some mentally competent people will refuse treatment under coercion, some mentally incompetent people will refuse treatment under no coercion etc etc and all possibilities in between. All I am advocating is the checks that doctors ALREADY make to minimise the number of those casualties.

    IS it possible you STILL don’t understand the distinctions? Would it help you to imagine a religious female doctor and an atheist male patient doing this?

    Louis

  161. #161 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    ryana (#155) –

    Not all religious belief. At least this one:

    “In view of the seriousness of taking blood into the human system by a transfusion, would violation of the Holy Scriptures in this regard subject the dedicated, baptized receiver of blood transfusion to being disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation?

    The inspired Holy Scriptures answer yes.” (The Watchtower, Jan. 15, 1961, p. 63)

    http://www.ajwrb.org/science/blood.shtml

  162. #162 inkadu
    November 30, 2007

    Put simply, we can distinguish between ‘harmful’ and ‘non-harmful’ religious beliefs based upon content. We cannot distinguish between them based upon epistemology.

    You know you’re on Pharyngula when a paragraph in the comments starts with, “Put simply,” and ends with “epistemology.”

  163. #163 Danny Haszard
    November 30, 2007

    Jehovah’s Witnesses elders will investigate and disfellowship any Jehovah Witness who takes a blood transfusion,to say the issue is a ‘personal conscience matter’ is subterfuge to keep the Watchtower out of lawsuits.

    Many Jehovah’s Witnesses men,women and children die every year worldwide due to blood transfusion ban.Rank & file Jehovah’s Witness are indoctrinated to be scared to death of blood.

    FYI
    1) JW’s DO USE many parts aka ‘fractions’ aka components of blood,so if it’s ‘sacred’ to God why the hypocritical contradiction flip-flop?

    2) They USE blood collections that are donated by Red cross and others but don’t donate back,more hypocrisy.

    3) The Watchtower promotes and praises bloodless elective surgeries,this is a great advancement indeed.BUT it’s no good to me if I am bleeding to death from a car crash and lose half my blood volume and need EMERGENCY blood transfusion.

    Know this,the reason that JW refuse blood is because of their spin on the 3000 year old Biblical old testament,modern medicine will eventually make blood donations and transfusions a thing of the past.When this technology happens it won’t vindicate the Jehovah’s Witnesses and all the deaths that have occured so far.
    The Watchtower’s rules against blood transfusions will eventually be abolished (very gradually to reduce wrongful death lawsuit liability) even now most of the blood ‘components’ are allowed.
    In 20 years there will be artificial blood and the Red Cross will go on with other noble deeds.

    None of these changes will absolve the Watchtower leaders or vindicate their twisted doctrines
    Are there dangers from blood?There are over 500 aspirin deaths in USA yearly.

    Danny Haszard born 1957 3rd generation Jehovah’s Witness

  164. #164 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    This as well is coercive, not to mention wholly reprehensible:

    “Lifesaving efforts by unscriptural means can never produce results of lasting good. How foolish it is to think that one can save life by violating the laws of the Life-giver! While it may produce seemingly beneficial results at the moment, it may ultimately take its toll in disease and stillborn children as a direct result of such an ill-advised course. Even if no physical harm results to the patient or to one’s offspring, violation of the law of God seriously jeopardizes one’s opportunity to gain eternal life in God’s new world.” (The Watchtower, Sept. 15, 1961, p. 565)

    “Sins of the father” and all that. Disgusting.

  165. #165 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    Zeno:

    Bill Dauphin (#130): Next, your cousin’s case is entirely different from the one under discussion here.

    Which is the point I made myself in my original post (#100).

    Yah, I know. I hope I didn’t seem to be arguing with you; I only meant to expand on the points you’d made.

    I absolutely think your cousin made the right choice, in the right way. My admiration for her decision only grows with the additional details you provide @154; I imagine you and her family cherish your memories of her, especially at this time of year.

  166. #166 cureholder
    November 30, 2007

    Regarding Brandon (#16)

    When challenging PZ to give you a reason rather than an example of how religion is child abuse, I would suggest you re-read what PZ wrote. He didn’t say it’s child abuse because it leads to stupid decisions that let children die. He said it strips children of reasoning abilities (which I can attest firsthand from my own wasted fundamentalist childhood, as people who frequent this blog know).

    As for your black culture analogy, it is not parallel. if black culture by definition involved denying children the necessary skills to live a rational life, then yes, we would use the example of the death of a black child from irrational decisions to say, “Black culture is child abuse.” But black culture does not involve teaching children fairy tales instead of reality, while religion by definition does.

    We’re judging religion, not by its output, but by its input. The output (a child unable to think coherently, leading to the child’s death) gives us cause to criticize the input (as PZ did in noting the replacement of reason with fantasy), but it’s the input that is demented and constitutes child abuse. The output simply follows logically.

  167. #167 RamblinDude
    November 30, 2007

    “The population, in general, is getting fatter and stupider, and they are voting into the highest offices their members, people who think–in the twenty first century–that the world is only six thousand years old.”

    In my rant, something got lost in the translation. Change that to, “It is mainstream religion that is voting into the highest offices their members, people who think–in the twenty first century–that the world is only six thousand years old.”

    Also, I forgot to include: How many gays, and other minorities, have been victimized because of religious poison.

    Okay, end of rant.

  168. #168 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    “If someone is incapable of giving their REASONED consent then they will be treated against their will.”

    Ewww… scary. Now REASONED is in all caps. Its suddenly no longer mere competence, i.e. not insane, it now REASONED competence. Let’s just make Louis a tribunal unto himself. Anyone thinking of refusing the recommended treatment from a doctor will submit themselves to the Louis tribunal for determination of what is REASONED (in all caps of course). Only after proving oneself sufficiently sterile of unREASONED religious beliefs then can one be ruled by Louis to be REASONED and make a personal medical decision.

    Of course, after passing Louis’s tribunal, one next has to sit before Father Martinez’s tribunal & then Pastor Bob’s tribunal, …….

  169. #169 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    Wow, ryana – you just crossed the line from mere piffle-peddler to full-fledged fucktard. Congrats.

  170. #170 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    “@121
    I think you’re a bit quick to throw out accusations of racism. Remember, it’s his analogy, and in his analogy, that the kid is black is one of the givens. It’s not like he is reading a story about a kid in Chicago, and jumping to the conclusion that the kid is black. He invented the kid, and he might as easily, have written “Find a news story about a black kid in Chicago who’s arrested for gang activity…”, which, I assume, is what he intended. Whether it’s an apt analogy is another story.
    Posted by: JY”

    I would consider it more of an observation of racism inherent in his posted remarks rather than an accusation of racism to a person.

    It is the fact that he wrote “a kid in Chicago”, rather than “a black kid in Chicago”, to illustrate his point that speaks to racism. Yes, he could have written “a black kid in Chicago”: in fact, he did not. He also did not make the argument that if a white or hispanic kid was “arrested for gang activity” then white or hispanic culture (whatever that may imply) might be argued to be child abuse. In fact he makes a stereotypical generalization of a specific group based on external appearance.

    You may be correct in implying that his intention was to specify that the gang member was black prior to his comment on “black culture”, whatever that is. That doesn’t change my observation of racism inherent in his comment. That would reinforce it rather than dilute it.

    Since there are about a dozen “peoples” with black skin who are unrelated to any shared ancestors for 30,000 years+; such as Melanesians, Dravidians, Australians, San, Khoi, Bantu, Andamanese, Semang, Aeta, Nilotic, Pygmy; the idea that there is such a thing as “black culture” is as ludicrous as the idea that there is such a thing as “white culture”. They are both simple minded and racist ideas.
    .

  171. #171 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Wow, now I’m Kent Hovnid. Interesting, calling an persian lesbian atheist living in oakland Kent Hovnid. If I’m Kent Hovnid then AtheistAcolyte is our ???? ?????.

    It is supremely interesting that personal autonomy is such an undervalued priority among the pharyngula crowd. one would presume that atheist, subject as we are to the tyranny of the religious majority, would put personal autonomy at a premium. And that if any group could value consistency of principle, even when it leads a decision we disagree with, it would be atheists.

    Or maybe its simply that some of my fellow atheists hate religion so much that they can’t separate the general concept of personal autonomy from a specific example where the motivation behind a decision of personal autonomy is a deluded religious belief they (and I) disagree with. “Freedom of speech for everyone but those that disagree with me!”

    BTW, as non-believers we owe a great debt to JW’s. Their deluded stubbornness won a lot of important early freedom of belief and religious practice court cases.

  172. #172 Mooser
    November 30, 2007

    Dishonesty and mental illness are at the heart of religious belief. I’m not sure if there’s more dishonesty or more mental illness. Maybe time will tell.

  173. #173 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    You are a fucktard because you’re not listening to reasoned arguments, no matter how many times they are brought to your attention.

    As Louis said, and you quote-mined with TNT:

    And yet again you miss the key point that I am not standing in the examination room, nor do I have any wish to, I am describing (and advocating) something that doctors ALREADY do. And I’m not pretending to advocate 100% personal autonomy. Try reading for basic comprehension Ryana. If someone is incapable of giving their REASONED consent then they will be treated against their will. That is expressly not an incidence of advocating the primacy of personal autonomy. It amounts to nothing more sinister and intrusive than the simple statement that sometimes, just sometimes, your doctor knows better than you do what is good for you. I’m out of the picture, so please stop hysterically and erroneously trying to bring me back in. One might almost think you were concern trolling for kicks.

    I took the liberty of bolding text I find relevant to understanding the quote you so hamhandedly mangled (which I underlined for reference). Speaking of reference, let’s see where you went with that:

    Ewww… scary. Now REASONED is in all caps. Its suddenly no longer mere competence, i.e. not insane, it now REASONED competence. Let’s just make Louis a tribunal unto himself. Anyone thinking of refusing the recommended treatment from a doctor will submit themselves to the Louis tribunal for determination of what is REASONED (in all caps of course). Only after proving oneself sufficiently sterile of unREASONED religious beliefs then can one be ruled by Louis to be REASONED and make a personal medical decision.

    Of course, after passing Louis’s tribunal, one next has to sit before Father Martinez’s tribunal & then Pastor Bob’s tribunal, …….

    Still not a fucktard? I most respectfully disagree.

    It’s not about denying you personal autonomy. It’s about recognizing that 100% personal autonomy in medical matters is ridiculously and painfully stupid. There needs to be some oversight of the patients, and if the doctor feels the patient is not reasonable, they bring it up to an objective third party (the courts) who examine the case and make a ruling. This is not strapping you down and giving you a treatment you don’t want merely because you disagree with me. There’s due process involved. Don’t be such a libertarian lunatic.

  174. #174 shiftlessbum
    November 30, 2007

    Ryana

    It is unfortunate that you and others are arguing over what amounts to (essentially) agreement. I don’t see (most) of Pharyngula commentators as being opposed to personal autonomy, quite the opposite in fact. What I do see is people talking past each other. I do think some people have missed the essence of what you’re saying and have instead objected to your abrasive responses (to be sure you were right in suggesting that some here have thin skins).

    I think that most of us would agree that given legal “competence”, however that is determined, we ought to be free to make medical decisions for ourselves without governmental interference. I think we also all agree that issues of competence are difficult to judge, depending as they are on contingency. When is “old enough” old enough? What role does coercion play? Do cognitive issues contribute? Whose opinions do we solicit and how do we weight them? Many such mitigating factors may enter into competency. As you said somewhere in this thread, ultimately we have to rely (in a strictly legal sense) on a trier of fact when a particular case comes to litigation. Beyond the courts though, there are the issues of ethics and morals in guiding personal decisions (that is, as they say, a “whole nother” thing). I think that you will find that most Pharyngula posters will come down on your side of this as well, including some who’ve you excoriated here.

    I guess I’m saying that I think that most of us actually agree on essentials of this topic and this thread has succumbed, as is often the case, to discussions about the size of your respective (and metaphorical) wieners. Your mileage may vary.

  175. #175 Mooser
    November 30, 2007

    The judge is an accessory to murder. An 8th friggin grader! You don’t let kids do stupid things. They are KIDS. They can be stupid when they grow up, but first they have to live to adulthood.

    Posted by: PalMD

    Was the child examined by a shrink for depression, or possibly DELUSIONS? Could it be that the judge was able to accept the boy’s delusions as real because they both share them? Or did the judge just get a kick out of watching him die.

    This isn’t something Dennis just came upon, and he believes with the transfusion he would be unclean and unworthy.”

    Well whaddayuno! The Judge does share the boy’s delusions!
    “Unclean” and “unworthy” are a rational mature basis for his (the boy’s) decision?

    Yup, a lot of sickos here. God Lord, was the Judges reasoning such sophisticated bamboozlement that it would have taken longer to find the flaws in it than it took the boy to die? We are in sad shape.

  176. #176 ryana
    November 30, 2007

    Who advocates 100% personal autonomy in medical decisions? Your chasing a strawman ???? ??????.

    “There needs to be some oversight of the patients, and if the doctor feels the patient is not reasonable, they bring it up to an objective third party (the courts) who examine the case and make a ruling.”

    I agree, and the standard is competency. Competency is legally defined. It is a pretty low bar. And unlike you ???? ????? -aziz, it doesn’t involve thrusting in concepts like: religious beliefs = not competent.

  177. #177 Ragutis
    November 30, 2007

    Have only read through about half the comments so far, so forgive me if the point’s already been brought up.

    Let me see if I have this straight: He’s too young to make decisions about where to put his willy, but mature enough to weigh life and death issues?

    If a woman of the aunt’s age persuaded this young boy to have sex, she’d be jailed due to him being too “immature” to freely decide to do so, no matter how stridently he argued consensuality. (And they’d likely send the kid to therapy.) Yet, the adult aunt effectively persuades the child to make a decision that will end his life and there are no repercussions?

  178. #178 Tatarize
    November 30, 2007

    You know, if anybody discovers a good broad cure for cancer, I’m going to suggest that it not only contains transfused blood but the blessings of Satan. — If there is anything more than memetic evolution at work, hopefully it starts to dwindle.

  179. #179 JY
    November 30, 2007

    @Jaycubed

    You could, of course, read the phrase ‘black culture’ to mean the ‘monolithic culture of all dark-skinned peoples everywhere’. To think that such a culture exists is of course silly. Or you could be more sensible and, in the context of the example, read ‘black’ as ‘African-American’, and therefore ‘black culture’ as ‘African-American culture’, a culture which does exist, as a component of the broader American culture. He didn’t specifically say that of course, so, by your interpretive style, we’re free to project whatever meaning we wish on the phrase ‘black culture’.

    It is the fact that he wrote “a kid in Chicago”, rather than “a black kid in Chicago”, to illustrate his point that speaks to racism.

    Or he could have intended to write ‘black’ before kid, and accidentally did not. Or he could have assumed that because the sentence about the ‘kid in Chicago’ and ‘black culture’ appeared close to one another that his readers would make the inference that the news story specified ‘black kid’ even if his summary did not. These other possibilities, which I consider likely, don’t speak to racism.

    I would consider it more of an observation of racism inherent in his posted remarks rather than an accusation of racism to a person.

    Weasel words. You said “Your racism is readily apparent in your statement…”. Not “Your statement can be interpreted as racist”. You accused the guy of being a racist. Even under your extremely uncharitable interpretation of his words, the most extreme thing you can accuse him of is prejudice. But, under a more reasonable interpretation, what he was actually doing was making a comment on prejudice and stereotyping.

  180. #180 Kseniya
    November 30, 2007

    I’m all for self-determination, but Ryana’s argumets fail to sway me for one reason only:

    1. A fourteen year old is not an adult

    1. Pregnancy is not a terminal illness

    1. The abortion rights of an underage victim of forcible incestuous rape are not analogous to the rights of an underage cancer patient to ensure his own death by refusing reasonable and common medical procedures as part of a treatment plan that will likely keep him alive for at least another five years, with little or no loss of quality-of-life.

    The above stretches the “pro-choice” argument to the breaking point. Still… This situation is not completely free of ambiguity, I admit. This boy died for his beliefs. In other contexts, dying for one’s beliefs may be considered noble and heroic. It is also true that he would have been spiritually compromised (at least for a time, perhaps for life) if forced to received the transfusion. Apparently, that compromise would have constituted a loss of dignity beyond that with which he was willing or able to live.

    However, this strongly-held – and ultimately fatal – belief was rooted in conclusions about the nature and effects of blood transfusion that are simply incorrect: essentially, delusional. But does that matter? Where do we draw the line?

    I am a fourteen-year-old girl. I have a malignant tumor. It is operable, but I refuse the procedure because I don’t want to be scarred. I would rather be dead than be scarred. I strongly believe that it is worse to be scarred than to be dead. Looking good is my religion. Sure, plastic surgery would help, but sorry, that’s not good enough.

    So. Which is it? Thumbs up? Or thumbs down?

    I am a thirteen-year-old girl. I’ve been destroyed – emotionally, spiritually, and socially – by the acts of a duplicitous and manipulative 48-year-old woman. I feel my life is already over. I have the right to die on my own terms. You can’t stop me. I’ve already taken the poison, and I have the right to refuse administration of the antidote.

    So. Which is it? Thumbs up? Or thumbs down?

    (Good luck with the bar exam.)

  181. #181 Kseniya
    November 30, 2007

    Yet, the adult aunt effectively persuades the child to make a decision that will end his life and there are no repercussions?

    Yes! I mean, no! Because it’s holy, untouchable RELIGION, immune from criticism or accountability!

  182. #182 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    I agree, and the standard is competency. Competency is legally defined. It is a pretty low bar. And unlike you ???? ????? -aziz, it doesn’t involve thrusting in concepts like: religious beliefs = not competent.

    And you are attacking a strawman for saying I equate religious belief with incompetency. For sure, there are plenty of competent religious people out there.

    But when children choose to deny trivial yet lifesaving medical procedures because of what their elders tell them scriptures say, we have some big problems. Not all religious beliefs are batshit-crazy, and not even all JW beliefs are insane either. Some really are insipid, but harmless. (“JWs cannot use fertilizer containing blood.” [The Watchtower, Oct. 15, 1981 p. 31]) But these things can become harmful and directly detrimental to their health when they dither on about blood transfusions.

    In fact, they could be detrimental to your health right now (yes, you, Persian lesbian atheist living in Oakland), when they involve public health issues such as vaccinations.

    When a 14 year old patient denies medical treatment because they’re depressed and want to die, they can be forced to take the treatment anyway. When a 14 year old patient denies medical treatment because of NO VALID REASON (and it’s not valid not just because it’s religious; secular phobias are included here), why can’t they be forced to take the treatment anyway? Irrational belief gets the free bus ticket to oblivion, while irrational suicidal patients get the hypo in the butt. What gives? Why does society say it knows better than the suicide kid but not the devout Witness?

  183. #183 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    If a woman of the aunt’s age persuaded this young boy to have sex, she’d be jailed due to him being too “immature” to freely decide to do so, no matter how stridently he argued consensuality. (And they’d likely send the kid to therapy.) Yet, the adult aunt effectively persuades the child to make a decision that will end his life and there are no repercussions?

    I prefer to think of it as playing Russian Roulette with the kid; only Lindberg’s chamber wasn’t empty. What court wouldn’t convict the guardian of at least negligence, if not manslaughter?

  184. #184 shiftlessbum
    November 30, 2007

    AthiestAcolyte says; ” Irrational belief gets the free bus ticket to oblivion, while irrational suicidal patients get the hypo in the butt. What gives? Why does society say it knows better than the suicide kid but not the devout Witness?”

    You are equating religious belief with a clinical pathology. While accurate in a comic way, it is simply not true that irrational religious belief is the result of mental illness. It sometimes is, but that is precisely what competency hearings are intended to ferret out. Suicidal people are often clinically depressed; a medical condition that is often treatable. That is wholly different (in a legal rights sense) than holding religious beliefs that are potentially harmful to yourself.

  185. #185 Stark
    November 30, 2007

    I find it ‘funny’ in the sense that I grew up as one myself. Not that I was capable of thinking for myself, it was only until I started deciding for myself that any change occurred. To think that I would have not accepted medical help just scares me. Just think if the kid had taken it? the religion shuns everyone who does. Ugh.

  186. #186 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    “Or you could be more sensible and, in the context of the example, read ‘black’ as ‘African-American’, and therefore ‘black culture’ as ‘African-American culture’, a culture which does exist, as a component of the broader American culture.
    Posted by: JY”

    Nonsense. There is no such thing as “African-American culture” any more than there is such a thing as “White-American culture”, they are both false & inherently racist ideas. There are numerous subcultures within American society. Some of these subcultures are predominately populated by black Americans, some are predominately populated by white Americans, some are predominately populated by hispanic speaking Americans, many are multi-ethnic. None of these sub-cultures define black or white or hispanic culture.

    To define a culture by skin color or ethnicity IS racism. It demonstrates what I like to call “COLORING-BLINDNESS”; the idea that a single attribute such as skin color or ethnic ancestry can be used to define either an individual or a group.

    As regards “weasel words”, I do certainly do contend that the writer’s racism is apparent in the words & context of his statements. My comments focus more on the words than the person writing them, therefore I find my comment that “I would consider it more of an observation of racism inherent in his posted remarks rather than an accusation of racism to a person” to be an accurate statement rather than weaseling.

    ps.
    I have known a number of “African-Americans”. Some of them had black skin (being from Ghana, Kenya, Uganda), some had white skin (being from South Africa), some were Indian (being from South Africa & Uganda), some had brown skin (being from Egypt, Tunisia & Algeria). If a black American went to most African countries and called themselves “African-Americans” they would be laughed at. Their ancestors came from Africa 150 to 400 years ago: their traditional cultures were violently suppressed and they were interbred both with white & native Americans. While some remnants of traditional cultures were preserved, the slave descendent black population of America is not “African”. Identity politics, whether by a dominant or oppressed subset of society, IS racism.

    pps.
    “Coloring-blindness” is the exact opposite of the “liberal” idea of “Color-blindness”; the belief that skin color or ethnic ancestry should be ignored. What should be ignored are the simplistic & false categories imposed on both individuals & groups.

  187. #187 Orac
    November 30, 2007

    At the hospital where I work we have a procedure in place just for JW’s. We have a stack of court orders waiting. When the patient loses consciousness a doctor fills out a form declaring them no longer capable of making their own decisions, someone fills in the name and date on the court order and takes it to the judge (who is not like THAT judge), wakes him up if necessary, he signs, we give the transfusion. If parents are refusing treatment for a minor, we call the police and they are arrested for criminal neglect of a minor. If the patient lives, we drop the charges.

    Although I have some sympathy for this approach in the case of minors who are Jehovah’s Witnesses and would indeed have little qualm about implementing it in the case of patients under, say 14 years old (15-18 years old would be a gray area), I would find it utterly appalling and (as nearly all bioethicists would certainly agree) completely unethical if your hospital pursued the same policy on adult Jehovah’s Witnesses. (You mentioned a 22 year old.) In a free society, adults have domain over their own bodies and should be allowed to refuse treatment, regardless of the reason for their refusal. It really doesn’t matter if the reason is a careful consideration of the risk/benefit ratio, their desire to pursue quackery instead of evidence-based medicine, or religious delusions such as those of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Treating a competent adult against his or her clearly stated wishes is a profound violation of person and intolerable in a free society.

  188. #188 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    “Treating a competent adult against his or her clearly stated wishes is a profound violation of person and intolerable in a free society.
    Posted by: Orac ”

    Exactly!

  189. #189 Master Mahan
    November 30, 2007

    Competency is legally defined. It is a pretty low bar. … it doesn’t involve thrusting in concepts like: religious beliefs = not competent.

    Once again, the point is not that religious beliefs equal a lack of competence – it’s that being 14 does. Legally he’s not considered old enough to vote, smoke, drink, gamble, or drive. Sure, it’s possible that he was mature enough to make this choice, but the odds are pretty slim. It would be the wiser decision to error on the side of caution and save this 14-year-old from essentially killing himself. If he feels this is still a mistake and wants to correct this when he’s an adult, he’s free to, but until then, the interest of saving a child’s life takes priority.

    So, to reverse the slippery slope questions: At what age should a child be unable to refuse treatment? 12? 10? 7? 4? Infancy?

  190. #190 AtheistAcolyte
    November 30, 2007

    shiftlessbum:

    You are equating religious belief with a clinical pathology. While accurate in a comic way, it is simply not true that irrational religious belief is the result of mental illness. It sometimes is, but that is precisely what competency hearings are intended to ferret out. Suicidal people are often clinically depressed; a medical condition that is often treatable. That is wholly different (in a legal rights sense) than holding religious beliefs that are potentially harmful to yourself.

    Actually, I equated irrational belief with clinical pathology. To be even more specific, I was (implicitly) referring to irrational belief which (unchecked) will lead to unavoidable harm of a fatal nature to oneself.

    Back to the comedy: Religion is a mental condition which is often treatable. Again, just because it’s religion, it gets handled with kid gloves.

  191. #191 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    Another aspect of this issue is the idea of willingness.

    Despite regularly reading Watchtower at the laundromat, I have not found the idea that an unwilling act (such as an underage or unconscious person being given a blood transfusion) reflects on the moral character of the person that the unwilling act is performed upon. It appears to me that the act of will is most important.

    Do Jehovah’s Witnesses expel people for actions they did not actively consent to?
    Does Yahweh send people to hell for an action performed on their unconscious or unwilling bodies?

    ps.
    When I was about 12, my father made the mistake of answering the door to some of Yahweh’s Posse and talked to them. For several years they would regularly drop by. As my father worked a graveyard shift, I was usually the one they tried to proselytize. Despite being an out atheist at 10yo., I was well educated in comparative religion due to my voracious appetite for reading. After telling them to go away had no effect, I decided to try a new tact. Each time they came by I would profess a different religion and would politely argue with them from the standpoint of that religion (Zooroastrianism for example). I learned that their beliefs were limited & unexamined but dogmatic. I also learned a lot about human desires & follies. Eventually they got tired of sending proselytes to bother me.

  192. #192 steve
    November 30, 2007

    Good review.-or at least a good resume of what you read in the news.
    That’s because news reporters do their best to tell the story as it is. They don’t voice opinions. They produce. We consume.

    That’s where this review went wrong. The review was fine until the writer wrote words of his own,
    “Religion is child abuse.”
    He blew it. At his workplace, the University of Minnesota, the writer, PZ Meyers, would never get away with such over the top, unscientific extrapolation.
    That’s why he has to foist his value-judgments on us via (sigh) another blog.
    As if the public needs the news pre-digested for us and spewed up with the contents of the writer’s own stomach.

  193. #193 Janine
    November 30, 2007

    Oh my! PZ is not acting like a reporter! He dares to inject an opinion after posting a story. (If I am not mistaken, PZ did not report the story.) Steve, PZ lays out where his bias out. You complaining does he does so is rather silly.

    Or is it that you dislike opinion. It is alright, you can admit it. That would be more honest.

  194. #194 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    Ah, so you’re Persian, ryana.

    Come on bitch, quite pouting

    As hard as it is to resist such a cogent and rigorous argument, I don’t have any intention of engaging with someone who can’t read a simple comment for comprehension, nor follow the thread of a logical argument, and who resorts to name-calling and mischaracterization in lieu of discussion.

    But I’ll second Kseniya in wishing you good luck with making it through that bar exam. It’s gratifying to see someone so utterly ?? ????? try to improve herself.

  195. #195 steve
    November 30, 2007

    You are right, the writer is not a reporter.

    This is one of those moments when the news facts speak so clearly that the public conscience is galvanized.

    He underestimates the public. We can read the news.

  196. #196 thalarctos
    November 30, 2007

    You complaining does he does so is rather silly.

    Well, be fair, Janine; after all, PZ is sitting there with a gun to Steve’s head forcing him to be here, so Steve’s perfectly justified to complain. It’s not like Steve’s coming here of his own free will or anything.

    Oh, wait…

  197. #197 shiftlessbum
    November 30, 2007

    AtheistAcolyte wrote: “Back to the comedy: Religion is a mental condition which is often treatable. Again, just because it’s religion, it gets handled with kid gloves.”

    Heh. Good point.

  198. #198 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    it is simply not true that irrational religious belief is the result of mental illness. It sometimes is,

    LOL

    explore the exceptions and extend outwards…

    you will see a great many parallels that are not readily dismissable by saying “it is simply not true”.

    is alcoholism the result of an underlying susceptibility to addictive behavior?

    it’s not the “alcholism” that’s the mental illness in and of itself, rather it’s an enabler of an underlying one.

  199. #199 Monado
    November 30, 2007

    A couple of days ago I was listening to the founder of SmartRisk.ca. The foundation tries to find effective ways of communicating risk information to young people and affecting their behaviour to prevent harm to them. The research shows that scaring young smokers with tales of lung cancer or motorcyclists with stories of crashes does not work because, deep down, young people believe they are immortal. The scary things will always happen to someone else. It takes a heap of living to make us realize it can happen to us, too. So young people of tha age are not emotionally equipped to evaluate the risk of dying. They can’t believe it any more than they believe that their first big love can wear out.

  200. #200 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    Do Jehovah’s Witnesses expel people for actions they did not actively consent to?

    yes.

    so does Islam.

    so do many other religious sects.

  201. #201 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    In a free society, adults have domain over their own bodies and should be allowed to refuse treatment, regardless of the reason for their refusal.

    then there is no such thing as a free society, as the interests of the many often outweigh the interests of the individual.

    man, how many million examples of this are there in this country alone?

    now, stretch your same logic to cults.

    no, your logic here is simplistic at best.

    this amazes me coming from Orac, who, with an extensive medical background surely has treated someone for a communicable disease at one time or another.

    do tell me, Orac, what exactly, as a physician licensed in the US, is your responsibility to report and treat extremely contagious diseases?

    I suppose when you run into a patient with tuberculosis who refuses treatment, you just let them walk out the door, eh?

    that was a pathetic excuse for a rant that you posed to be an actual workable argument.

  202. #202 Steve
    November 30, 2007

    With Web2, people only visit find these blogs because others recommend them.
    The writer is complicit. Notice al the little icons?
    post this entry to Searchles
    add this entry to del.icio.us
    submit this entry to StumbleUpon
    Slashdot
    post this entry to Digg
    post this entry to Reddit
    post this entry to Newsvine

    I came here via Stumbleupon. For me, the peer-recommended browsing experience is declining.

    A year ago, I was viewing the best sites. It was like being set free. Now I mostly get this kind of stuff.

    Let the author post a blog, or foist his opinions on his long-suffering partner, his students, or pay $180 an hour to see a shrink.

    Just not me. I came here by accident.

  203. #203 Sam
    November 30, 2007

    It amazes me how many people on here are anti-religion as a whole.
    It is sad that this kid died, from a seemingly treatable condtion. But he had faith. That’s something we all can learn from. He may be a “kid” but there are a lot of “adults” I know that are probablu far less mature than that young man was.
    No, I don’t agree that what he did is how to get to Heaven, or that it is wrong to accept a blood transfusion. But their are things that are more important than this life. What would be the point in living if it wasn’t for something? We would all day and pass away and be no better than an animal. What would it profit? We are all going to die anyway.
    As a Christian, I see this as a sad loss of life due to a misunderstanding of scripture (something that occurs quite often throughout history, Catholics are famous for it). But blaming his aunt or his parents isn’t going to help the spread of false teaching. Nor is clumping all religion together in the same boat. There is truth. And you need to find it.
    So before you try to help other people and cast blame on those who believe in God, find out what the truth is. You can’t expect them to study and research your material if you won’t at least look into theirs.

    Food for thought: Without a higher power, on what basis can base claims of child abuse? In other words, if no one told you it was wrong or decided it to be wrong, how do you know it’s wrong? And what makes what you think to be wrong any more valid than what someone else has to say?

  204. #204 steve
    November 30, 2007

    Another reason why you should read the news and not the blogger’s selection:
    from CBS News:
    “Doctors had given Dennis a 70 percent chance of surviving the next five years with the transfusions and other treatment, the judge added”.

  205. #205 priscila
    November 30, 2007

    i believe that whoever is disagreeing with dennis should give it a rest because news flash people he has already died and we should all just respect his opinion i am also a jehova witness and i apluad his choice because if he had taken the blood he would eventually STILL die and would have disobeyed god but since he chose to obey him i believe he will get everlasting life .

  206. #206 RamblinDude
    November 30, 2007

    It always amazes me how the atmosphere on this blog changes when we get visitors from the “outside”. It’s like someone let the doors to the insane asylum open.

  207. #207 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    That’s something we all can learn from.

    yes, Sam, but it seems to teach many of us quite a different lesson than it seems to teach you.

    maybe someday you will grasp the real lesson, but I doubt you have the capacity for self-examination required.

    we should all just respect his opinion

    no, Priscilla, we very much shouldn’t.

    I’m sure even you can think of very destructive “opinions” even you would not respect.

    now if those “opinions” were part of your cultural upbringing, and you really were entirely indoctrinated with them, would you think it useful to value those opinions outside of the specific culture?

  208. #208 Jaycubed
    November 30, 2007

    “But he had faith. That’s something we all can learn from.
    (all) Posted by: Sam”

    Agreed, we can all learn how idiotic & foolish Faith is as a concept for living.

    “But their(sic) are things that are more important than this life.”

    Nonsense; unless you believe in Fairies our life is all there is for us.
    Existence IS.
    Fairyland (ie. heaven, hell, god’s kingdom) IS NOT. This life is all you get.

    “What would be the point in living if it wasn’t for something? We would all day(sic) and pass away and be no better than an animal. What would it profit?”

    You imply that the only point in living is provided by Fairies. How small minded and arrogant to believe that even if there is meaning to our existence, it is knowable by or related in any way to humans. A far better supposition is that life’s purpose is to create better parasites and we are extraneous (ala Vonnegut).

    How are we “better” then other animals? We have attributes as a species, some of which are unique, such as our ability to record & transmit complex ideas in a non-organic format (writing & drawing). Also unique is our talent & bent towards massive destruction (war & ecological devastation). But better? Sounds pretty arrogant to me.

    Is there no profit to kindness, compassion, love, self-sacrifice & all the behaviors religion-free persons can perform?

    “So before you try to help other people and cast blame on those who believe in God, find out what the truth is. You can’t expect them to study and research your material if you won’t at least look into theirs.”

    I have been an atheist since I was 10yo. It is because of my reading of religious texts that I am an atheist. Over the years I have many friends, colleagues & acquaintances who were priests, ministers, rabbis & buddhist monks. In the case of christians, I regularly find that I am far better acquainted with their religious books than they are. I have studied your source materials. Your big Fairy is an evil fantasy entity and not worthy of worship even if it did exist. I “cast blame” on those who do destructive acts, regardless of their beliefs. I applaud those who perform positive & constructive acts, regardless of their beliefs.

    The truth is…there are no such things as Fairies.

    “As a Christian, I see this as a sad loss of life due to a misunderstanding of scripture (something that occurs quite often throughout history, Catholics are famous for it). But blaming his aunt or his parents isn’t going to help the spread of false teaching.”

    It is not due to misunderstanding of scripture that this boy died. It was from understanding scripture. It is all false teaching (regardless of either your silly misstatement or your anti-catholicism).

    “Food for thought: Without a higher power, on what basis can base claims of child abuse? In other words, if no one told you it was wrong or decided it to be wrong, how do you know it’s wrong? And what makes what you think to be wrong any more valid than what someone else has to say?”

    Your “food for thought” is pretty slim fare. The basis for my beliefs regarding good & evil, right & wrong, constructive & destructive has absolutely nothing to do with the proclamations of a Fairy. They have to do with the results of those actions in reality. They are based on the real world. I don’t need a Fairy to tell me that if I treat others with kindness I am more likely to be treated kindly. I don’t need a Fairy to tell me that I shouldn’t treat others in a way that I wouldn’t want to be treated.

    I HAVE NO MORALS.

    I HAVE ETHICS.

    .

  209. #209 John C. Randolph
    November 30, 2007

    “At least this kid was willing to sacrifice his own life for his faith”

    What you call “faith”, I call supersition. The kid offed himself, because he was even more of a blithering idiot than you are.

    -jcr

  210. #210 Russell Blackford
    November 30, 2007

    OMG, someone let in the wingnuts. (Hi, sam!)

    Anyway, the way the law works with people’s competence to refuse medical treatment is that it does actually get assessed on a case by case basis when we are dealing with minors who are arguably competent and mature. The number of cases is small enough for this to work, by and large. It wouldn’t be practical with drivers’ licences or age of consent laws, probably. But if it were practical, it would be better. I can’t believe that some people want to have a more crude way of doing things than current medical law allows. Where practical, we should tailor our legal systems in favour of maximising the autonomy of competent individuals.

    I also can’t believe that some people seem to think that the judge should, in effect, have acted on the basis that the guy’s religious beliefs were false. That would be a gross breach of the doctrine of separation of church and state. I hope I’ve misunderstood and no one is really advocating his.

    As far as I can see, the judge got this right – at least, I see no reason on any of the facts given to think otherwise.

    The problem is just that the young man concerned had a false, self-destuctive belief, which he could have had if he had been, say, 41 rather than 14. It’s not a matter of maturity. The judge also expressly found that there was no coercion. Don’t blame the judge or the law; blame the belief itself and the people who socialised this young man into it.

  211. #211 Janine
    November 30, 2007

    I came here via Stumbleupon. For me, the peer-recommended browsing experience is declining.

    A year ago, I was viewing the best sites. It was like being set free. Now I mostly get this kind of stuff.

    Let the author post a blog, or foist his opinions on his long-suffering partner, his students, or pay $180 an hour to see a shrink.

    Just not me. I came here by accident.

    Posted by: Steve | November 30, 2007 8:23 PM

    Another reason why you should read the news and not the blogger’s selection:
    from CBS News:
    “Doctors had given Dennis a 70 percent chance of surviving the next five years with the transfusions and other treatment, the judge added”.

    Posted by: steve | November 30, 2007 8:31 PM

    You are still complaining that some who has a blog, in part to express his opinions, expresses his opinion.

    You came here through StumbleUpon. If you dislike what you read, it is easy enough to stumble to an other site. That is kind of the idea behind that.

    You also seem to think that all of us are incapable to following up a story. Guess what, even the dumbest troll who can get online, can use a search engine. And most of the regulars here are pretty damned smart.

    As for the child’s chance of surviving, that meant he had a change to survive. The the best chance but still, there was one. Yet the child had been sold a load of tripe. Was it his choice to go through the transfusion? Yes. But the child was preconditioned against it.

    Steve, my advice to you is this. Stop your whining. Opinions are posted here. If you want you straight science here, there is plenty to be had. But it is not just science here. If you want to debate, stop whining about the set up. You can have your say. If it is so awful here, do not come back. It really is that simple.

  212. #212 Janine
    November 30, 2007

    It amazes me how many people on here are anti-religion as a whole.
    It is sad that this kid died, from a seemingly treatable condtion. But he had faith. That’s something we all can learn from. He may be a “kid” but there are a lot of “adults” I know that are probablu far less mature than that young man was.

    Posted by: Sam | November 30, 2007 8:24 PM

    If we all showed that kind of faith, our species would have died out eons ago. Nothing to be learned. It is just a sad story.

  213. #213 Rey Fox
    November 30, 2007

    You sure are a whiny little ass, Steve. Now kindly Stumble somewhere else.

  214. #214 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    OMG, someone let in the wingnuts

    I’m sure someone, somewhere, has remade “Who let the Dogs Out” with just such wingnuts in mind.

    gotta be out there on youtube somewhere.

  215. #215 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    Was it his choice to go through the transfusion? Yes. But the child was preconditioned against it.

    BINGO

    too bad Priscilla doesn’t get that.

    I left not so subtle clues (*cough*cult*cough*), but somehow I doubt they were obvious enough.

  216. #216 BlueIndependent
    November 30, 2007

    Wow, the most posts to a thread I’ve yet seen on this blog.

    So let me get this straight: Certain people here are arguing this 13-14 year-old kid was adult enough to be allowed to make a decision that was very likely to and did end his life, but other children aren’t adult or mature enough to have sex with their boy/girlfriends, drive cars, vote, enlist, drink alcohol, or any number of other things allowed true adults in this society? Not that I would advocate a 14 year-old be granted any of these things, but this kid making a decision to die is a good thing because he had “faith”? Nobody’s going to convince me this kid was smart enough to be his own adult person. I was never afforded that at that age, nobody I know was, and I don’t think anybody should be. If we cut our 14 year-olds loose at their level of maturity, half of them would end up dead. That’s why they’re not considered adults.

    Anyone pay any attention whatsoever to our populace lately? There’s plenty of adults that are incapable of the responsibility, frankly. I won’t beg the question if you are kidding me, because the logic on your part (the religious part) is more than torturous, it’s inhuman. That this kid was “taught” that having a blood transfusion would make him dirty in his god’s eyes is tragic. It would be one thing if he were on his deathbed facing this, and it was a decision between him and another similarly-aged or younger child getting the blood. But this was his opportunity to live, and he shunned it because someone told him an amorphous, unknown concept of a being was going to wag his finger at him if he took the procedure.

    This is why atheism is inherently more moral: There’s nothing casting aspersions on your character if you make certain choices like deciding to take a doctor’s advice and get help that will with 99.99% certainty save your life.

  217. #217 Sastra, OM
    November 30, 2007

    Sam #202 wrote:

    It is sad that this kid died, from a seemingly treatable condtion. But he had faith. That’s something we all can learn from. He may be a “kid” but there are a lot of “adults” I know that are probablu far less mature than that young man was.

    The child died for a cause. And there are causes worth dying for. But that does not mean that this was a cause worth dying for, and we need to learn something from this child.

    “Faith” can mean hope, trust, confidence, devotion, and being steadfast. So in itself it could be good, or bad. It’s going to depend. But when used in the context of religion, it means being sure — really, really sure — of things that are hoped for, and of evidence which is not seen. It means being unwavering and confident of things which can’t be cross-checked or verified in this world. And not letting go. You don’t change your mind, you “lose your faith.”

    The faith, then, isn’t in God. The faith isn’t in heaven, or scripture, or a particular religion. When it gets down to it, the faith is in the self. That’s the cause.

    Religion is an area where good, intelligent, thoughtful people can’t come to a consensus. Forget the different sects — there’s not even an agreement on whether God even exists. So — could you be wrong? Answer: No. If you were wrong, could you know you were? Would you be able to find out, within the context of your faith? Answer again: No.

    Those are not good answers to those two questions. They are not humble, or honest, or virtuous. They don’t demonstrate character. If you were to put those questions to someone on a matter of politics, or science, or any other area of human endeavor, and get those answers, you know that it signifies that someone suffers from a stubborn and arrogant inability to consider themselves human, and liable to err.

    It’s the same when it comes to religion. No, it’s worse — because the experts themselves operate from the same “faith,” the need to believe beyond evidence in this world. So the kid didn’t die for a Higher Cause. He did not die for God. He died because he could not seriously consider the possibility that he was wrong.

    And that is not a mark of maturity.

  218. #218 Sastra, OM
    November 30, 2007

    BlueIndependent wrote:

    Wow, the most posts to a thread I’ve yet seen on this blog.

    Oh, this is nothing. I didn’t bother to read it all, but one of the recent entries (on global warming I think) was up over 1,200 last I bothered to check. I think Pharyngula was invaded by a mess of folks from another science-related blog. And you know how those kinda people are.

    Good post, btw. I agree with Orac, that people do have the right to make their own decisions on health — but this kid was too young. Sticky situation all around, though. No good outcome no matter what — best you get is holding down a hysterical teenager and hoping he overcomes the deep and bitter resentment in a few years.

  219. #219 BlueIndependent
    November 30, 2007

    @ #217:

    It’s been a while since I’ve been posting here, so I’m used to the 50-100 rangers. Seeing something over 200 is new, at least to me…kinda like NBC reruns.

  220. #220 jtg
    November 30, 2007

    Perhaps this is an example of natural selection in action: this young fool didn’t survive to pass on his genes nor his memes.

    jtg

  221. #221 ryana
    December 1, 2007

    Sam, being anti-religion is a good thing. Because religion is a bad thing.

  222. #222 craig
    December 1, 2007

    Actually, I agree that his death is the result of a misunderstanding of scripture.

    The proper understanding of scripture is that it is a load of nonsensical and contradictory mythological hooey dreamed up by a bunch of ignorant authoritarians thousands of years ago and garbled even further by being passed along ever since as if in a childhood game of telephone, plus changed willfully by those able to do so for their personal advantage.

    Understand scripture, understand that, and you have no problems.

  223. #223 craig
    December 1, 2007

    “I wish one day I eventually have the faith and strength this kid had.”

    And we wish that one day you do too.

    Ok not really, but I couldn’t let a good snark opportunity pass by.

  224. #224 MAJeff
    December 1, 2007

    oh, what was that term of PZ’s?

    Oh, yes; the demented fuckwits have arrived.

  225. #225 ADyuaa
    December 1, 2007

    Religion as detrimental to children (child abuse, sociological virus, etc.) should be testable. For example, if I know a child is religious, with a very little research I can say that they are X more likely to go to prison, Y more likely to live in poverty most of their lives, and Z more likely to die younger than the national average.

    However, correlation is not causation. On the other hand, I now have a hypothesis. Here is the test:

    Take a group of one hundred religious children, randomly selected. Divide them into two groups, again randomly. Convince fifty of them to be not religious.

    Follow them through their lives. Are they doing better or worse than the control group?

    So, who’s in favor? What would it take to convince Group A to be non-religious? Would degrees of religiosity also be testable?

    To whom do I apply for funding?

  226. #226 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    To whom do I apply for funding?

    for a hoot, try the Templeton Foundation.

  227. #227 sacredchao
    December 1, 2007

    So, I’m sitting here trying to finish my personal statement to get into grad school, and I read this depressing bit of news. Now I’ll never get it done. Dammit.

  228. #228 Rose
    December 1, 2007

    ‘Give us a real logical argument that religion is detrimental to children and I will consider it.’

    When a child is indoctrinated with any religious belief they are taught to hold up a standard in their mind which cannot be rationally challenged. It means that as they grow up attempting to think critically about the world and make ethical decisions in the situations they encounter, there is a point in the mind past which they cannot allow their capacity for rational thought to take them. This has, throughout a person’s life, a profoundly damaging effect on their ability to evaluate ethical situations clearly. It predisposes them to follow an arbitrary rule in the mind long after the brain has matured enough to be capable of evaluating a situation on its own merits.

    When a child is very young there is a purpose to obeying without question the rule ‘Don’t talk to strangers’. When the child is older they understand that there are some circumstances under which it is fine to converse with people you haven’t met before and others when it is an unsafe thing to do. The religious maxim ‘obey unquestioningly the commands of your god’ is designed not to be flexible, not to be adaptable to circumstance, not to be grown out of at an appropriate point. If a child has been indoctrinated with any religion that demands unquestioning belief, then the risk that they will at some point in their lives make decisions based on it rather than on what a situation actually requires is so high as to be practically certain. The death of a 14 year old is a particularly horrifying example.

    The adherence to an uncritical belief is likely to incite people to make decisions which cause harm to oneself and others – a religious person does what is ‘right’ because god says it is ‘right’, and this is more important than the actual consequences. The wilful contortions and restrictions imposed by religion on a vulnerable and developing mind prevent that mind from reaching its full potential. This constitutes a massive injustice against children.

  229. #229 bernarda
    December 1, 2007

    This case is only one of many many.

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=swan_19_1

    “Shortly after our research was published, the Oregonian reported that the Followers of Christ Church in Clackamas County lets children die without medical care. The congregation has its own cemetery and has buried 78 children there since 1955.

    Surely these are astronomical death rates in a congregation with an estimated 1,200 members. Yet public officials remained indifferent for decades. In more than 50 cases, the state either did not bother to determine the cause of the children’s deaths or the records have been lost. Since 1987, the medical examiner has performed autopsies and brought cases to the district attorney’s office. The prosecutor, however, declined to file charges, claiming that the parents had a constitutional right to withhold lifesaving care from their children.

    In the past year Followers children without medical care have died of a renal infection, a strangulated hernia, and diabetes. New Clackamas County District Attorney Terry Gustafson wants to file charges, but has concluded that Oregon laws providing religious immunity to charges of homicide by abuse or neglect and manslaughter, enacted in 1995 and 1997, prevent her from doing so.”

    http://www.nospank.net/asser.htm

    “The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that while freedom of belief is protected, there is no right to freedom to act on those beliefs in a way that hurts others. Despite this and at the urging of Christian Science lobbyists, in 1974, the federal government mandated that states that receive child abuse prevention grants have laws that would exempt parents from the duty to provide medical care to ill children if they instead relied on “spiritual treatment.” Since that time, close to 300 deaths of children of Christian Scientists and fundamentalist faith healing groups have been well documented, and there are more out there that are hidden from public view. These children died slow, agonizingly painful deaths from such easily preventable or treatable disorders and diseases such as appendicitis, pneumonia, measles or diabetes. They also exposed others in the community to infectious diseases and increase the risk to even those around them who are immunized.

    Shauntay Walker was a 4-year-old girl who died in CA in 1984 from untreated meningitis, of a type now preventable with immunizations. She had not received any childhood vaccinations while the family dog was fully immunized. The law required it for the dog, but not for the child. We live in a country in which the laws that protect pets are better than those that protect children.

    Ashley King died at age 12 from bone cancer. Because her parents neglected her medical needs beyond the time medical care could have been effective, a judge allowed her to be placed in a Christian Science sanatorium to live out her last few weeks. There she screamed in pain. Rather than getting her painkillers or a doctor, her Christian Science nurse scolded her, telling her that her pain wasn’t real and that she was disturbing the other residents.”

    So, religious torture and murder is authorized.

  230. #230 Rose
    December 1, 2007

    Bernarda,

    Do you know was the exact religious justification used by the Christchurch parents of Clackamas County for witholding lifesaving treatments from their children? The weblinks you posted don’t say. It doesn’t make a difference in as much as any religious belief being legally held to exempt a parent from their duty of care is socially disgraceful regardless of the specific belief, but I’d be interested to know.

  231. #231 Peter Ashby
    December 1, 2007

    “How do you deal with the very similar issues of right to die for adults? Would the European system force Terry Schiavo to stay a vegtable? Does Europe deny adults the right to chose not to be recessitated (sp)?
    In Europe, are all minors absolutely denied all autonomy over their bodies? For example, can a raped 15 year old get an abortion over the objections of her parents?”

    I have explained it ryana and it really is as simple as I have said. If you are a competent adult then you have autonomy. Yes, I can choose not to be resucitated, Terry Schiavo would have been turned off, no hoo haa, The rape thing depends on which country but even Portugal and Eire are now coming round. Here in the UK, yes absolutely. And the statutory rape thing depends on the circumstances, two 14 year olds, no prosecution. A 16 yo and his 15 yo girlfriend, maybe but probably not. An adult and a 15 yo, absolutely. There was a case just recently where the perps claimed and this was backed up by the victim that they consented. No dice, victims were not competent and it is up to ALL participants to be absolutely sure how old they are, regardless of what one of them says.

    That is what competence to decide means. Eventually we will have elective euthanasia too, it may well take proper reform of the house of lords to remove the lords spiritual (the anglican bishops), but people will not have to got to Switzerland to die. But they are free to go now.

    Oh and we can go holiday in Cuba without being prosecuted by our govts when we get back. So you are not as free over the pond relative to us as you may think.

  232. #232 Timothy Travis
    December 1, 2007

    Just to keep things a little real, here: the Oregon statute on this subject:

    419B.110 Emergency medical care; court may authorize. Whether or not a petition has been filed, if a child requires emergency medical care, including surgery, and no parent is available or willing to consent to the care, a judge of the juvenile court may authorize the care. The judge may thereafter direct the filing of a new petition. [1993 c.546 24]

    The parenthetical at the end indicates that this statute was written in 1993, but it’s actually older as that is a re-codification date.

    I am a lawyer who has represented abused and neglected children, currently employed by the Oregon Judicial Department: Staff Counsel for Juvenile and Family Law. I do a lot of training of people in the child welfare community, particularly judges, and I participate in policy development in the legislature and the executive branch of government.

    I have even sat–pro tempore–as a judge in Clackamas County (which is next door to where I Iive here in Portland) hearing juvenile cases although never on any case involving the group commented upon here.

    Also, for full disclosure, I should say that I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends and not a creationist. I don’t think the Bible is word-for- the word the Word of God. I think it’s one book of many you can find that contains words about God (or The Divine, or The Transcendent Reality, or The Big Kahuna–take your pick).

    Like probably all states we have had our share of issues on this topic, and we have our share of people whose emotional condition and judgment are uneven.

    I cannot say that no judge in Oregon would ever allow an eighth grade student to refuse medical treatment as an adult would surely be allowed to do if the mandates of informed consent were observed. But I don’t think the ones I know–and I know a good share of them pretty well–would.

    But I also think that some who read this blog would be displeased to learn that an Oregon judge would very likely give a 13 year old girl the choice to keep or abort a fetus conceived in rape or even “statutory rape”–and would not base his or her judgment on whether it was “religious” or “rational” thinking behind her decision (14 is the age of medical consent, here, when one gains a legal ability to act contrary to parental wishes or commands).

    I do observe, as a first time reader of this blog, that it seems to me that hysteria, hyperbole and histrionics are not limited to religious people. To say that religion kills people, at least to say so without showing a little humility by conceding, sua sponte, the abhorrent record of “science” in this regard sounds tinny to me. The body count for the fruits of science seems to me to be up there, too.

    Seems to me, on this one read, that there are people on the science side of things ( and I didn’t realize the extent to which things seem to have a “science” side) who are as anxious to take up the mantle of ultimate authority to judge others and talk about crushing people who do not share their basic assumptions as there are “religious” people out there who are under that same power.

    I see quite a bit of flawed logic and, frankly, what looks like hatred posted above. I would have hoped to see more from highly educated and concerned people that was coming from a place of simplicity, harmony, equality, community and integrity. And compassion.

    Timothy Travis
    Bridge City Friends Meeting
    Portland, Oregon

    It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.

    – Samuel Adams

  233. #233 Atheist in a Kilt
    December 1, 2007

    I want to make a simple comment and then see how many agree with me.

    Had this child [14 is a child in the USA, regardless of your opinion it is the law], now, had this child never been taught the tenants of the Jehovah’s Witness religion, he would probably be alive right now. It really is that simple. What do you say?

    Oh, and to the couple of JW’s who have commented here, I have a question- What would your congregation elders say if they knew you were reading material that speaks out against the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    Dont B.S. me, I was one of you for 15 years, you know this just isn’t allowed. Bad JW, Bad. I’m gonna roll up a Watchtower and smack you right across your pious nose.

  234. #234 Neil Schipper
    December 1, 2007

    His crazy aunt killed him as surely as if she had beat him to death with a baseball bat.

    Estimated relative causes of the boy’s death:

    bad genetic luck – 92%
    med science insufficiently advanced – 4%
    belief in afterlife is respected and mainstream – 2%
    bad sociological luck (raised in a belief system that eschewed treatment that might’ve saved him) – 2%

    PZ, your rhetoric suggests that the aunt can and should be prosecuted. I’m afraid that’s nonsense.

    But I really would have liked to see the judge and vocal, noisy ex-JW’s publically castigate the belief system.

  235. #235 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    It really is that simple.

    aye.

  236. #236 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    To say that religion kills people, at least to say so without showing a little humility by conceding, sua sponte, the abhorrent record of “science” in this regard sounds tinny to me.

    since the science is not what is at issue here, your comment reeks of contrived equivalence.

    now, since it’s clear it was a quite inappropriate comparison, ask yourself why you constructed it to begin with.

    self-analyze, and you will find it not appropriate and most accurately described as a defensive mechanism taking the form of rhetoric on your part.

    care to try again?

  237. #237 RamblinDude
    December 1, 2007

    Timothy Travis,

    Welcome to our world. Your puzzlement at the disdain you find here for religion is understandable–you’re a lawyer, not a scientist. But when you introduced yourself, you qualified your religious views by stating that you are not a creationist. You must, therefore, have some idea of the harm that that superstition has done to the field of science.

    If religion were comprised of people who approached the bible as pragmatically as you claim to do then religion wouldn’t be causing the problems that it is in the world today, and there would be not much reason to get all up in arms about it. But that is very much not the case. And scientists, especially biologists know this all too well.

    Perhaps if religion were an immediate threat to your profession–the practice of law and the pursuit of justice–you would be more sympathetic to the antagonism and the contempt that many scientists feel for the destructive, anti-science, non-reality based, harmful beliefs that plague this country.

  238. #238 Orac
    December 1, 2007

    this amazes me coming from Orac, who, with an extensive medical background surely has treated someone for a communicable disease at one time or another.
    do tell me, Orac, what exactly, as a physician licensed in the US, is your responsibility to report and treat extremely contagious diseases?

    Alright, I made a mistake in that I assumed the disease was one that didn’t affect anyone other than the patient and didn’t explicitly verbalize that the patient’s autonomy only extends as far as not putting another person at risk for disease. Since we were talking about a case of cancer, it was a reasonable assumption; however in the case of contagious disease that can spread through casual contact, then making sure that the patient can’t harm others by exposing them to dangerous communicable diseases has to come into the equation.

    There, happy now? Mea culpa.

    Even in that case, though, an argument can be made that, while we are obligated to make sure that the patient doesn’t harm anyone else, forcing treatment on a patient who doesn’t want it is still ethically treacherous if the patient can safely be quarantined until he either dies or becomes noninfectious; in other words, if an option exists that prevents harm to others and still honors the patient’s wishes. Of course, cases where it might not be “practical” are where the patient can’t be quarantined, for whatever reason, or where the patient might end up being a chronic carrier (i.e., you can’t reasonably lock him up for the rest of his life.)

  239. #239 Orac
    December 1, 2007

    Estimated relative causes of the boy’s death:

    bad genetic luck – 92%
    med science insufficiently advanced – 4%
    belief in afterlife is respected and mainstream – 2%
    bad sociological luck (raised in a belief system that eschewed treatment that might’ve saved him) – 2%

    Don’t be silly. It’s more like this:

    Chances of boy’s surviving his cancer if he weren’t a Jehovah’s Witness: 70%
    Chances of boy’s surviving his cancer as a Jehovah’s Witness who disobeyed his religion: 70%
    Chances of boy’s surviving his cancer as a loyal, devout Jehovah’s Witness: Close to zero.

    That’s all you need to know.

  240. #240 Timothy Travis
    December 1, 2007

    I do have an appreciation of the harm done by ignorance–religious and secular. People commenting here seem to think that all the world’s problems are caused by religion and that rationality causes none.

    But praying did not build Dachau; ignorant “science” blessed the ultimate solution. And Bible study groups are not melting the polar ice caps–the by product of technology–the fruit of reason, is behind that. It was not convincing people about dividing fish and loaves that exploded African population and expanded its deserts–it was the greeen revolution.

    Sure, reason and science and technology have benefitted the world. No one would deny that. Sure, people motivated by religion (or using it as a justification) have done great harm. No one would deny that. Neither has been, however, an unalloyed good or evil.

    My father-in-law was a scientist, by the way, on the research staff at DuPont (a chemist). He was very well thought of, professionally, and a devout Presbyterian. His religion never seemed to get in his way. Nor was it a threat to his colleagues.

    I am often asked if I believe in God and I have learned to ask what they mean by “God.” After they explain I am almost always able to say that I don’t believe in the God they describe. I sure don’t believe in the God that “doesn’t exist” in the minds of people writing here. I don’t know a lot of religious people do (although I am know they are out there).

    And, by the way, I would not characterize my approach to the Bible as “pragmatic.” Upon reflection you may see how I see this as a patronizing and mildly offensive thing to say. My view of the Bible (and other “holy books”) is also very common, among Christians.

    Religion is more varied than people here seem to want to recognize that it is. None of us–you or me–will be effective dealing wtih the challenges of fundamentalism (Christian, Islamic, etc) by employing the kind of ignorance and nastiness expressed above to overcome the ignorance and nastiness we deplore.

    If you can stomach a little theism–it is my view that we cannot overcome evil with evil. We can only create more evil. This has been the outcome, over and over again, when people have employed evil to overcome evil. Even the apparently “good” outcomes just lay the groundwork for future evil.

    This is the reason, by the way, that people who threaten your profession will not succeed. They lost in Dayton and they will lose, again, in the long run. They divide their own house, they will inherit the wind.

    We cannot expect to divide our own house and receive any other legacy.

  241. #241 Tulse
    December 1, 2007

    But praying did not build Dachau; ignorant “science” blessed the ultimate solution.

    Yeah, it was science that was anti-Semitic, and not the religious environment of Europe, or the Christian religious beliefs of the Hitler and the Nazis.

    And Bible study groups are not melting the polar ice caps–the by product of technology–the fruit of reason, is behind that.

    What groups are opposing action on global warming? Evangelists in the US.

    It was not convincing people about dividing fish and loaves that exploded African population and expanded its deserts–it was the greeen revolution.

    Yeah, we should have just all those African starve. (By the way, what’s the Catholic Church’s position on the technology of condoms to fight AIDS in Africa?)

  242. #242 Kseniya
    December 1, 2007

    People commenting here seem to think that all the world’s problems are caused by religion

    Yes, sure – for an extremely rare and specific definition of “all”.

    But praying did not build Dachau; ignorant “science” blessed the ultimate solution.

    Wow! A new candidate for “The Stupidest Fucking Thing I’ve Ever Read!”

  243. #243 Timothy Travis
    December 1, 2007

    I meant that NAZIs used Eugenics as the justification for the final solution.

    Sorry I wasn’t clear.

    Timothy Travis
    Bridge City Friends Meeting
    Portland, Oregon

  244. #244 RamblinDude
    December 1, 2007

    But praying did not build Dachau; ignorant “science” blessed the ultimate solution.

    You are implying that Dachau was engineered by rational people? They were not rational; they were fanatics and they were evil, and they believed a lot of superstitious crap that was not based on reality–just like so many of the perpetrators of religious atrocities through the ages. The only difference is we don’t label it as a religious atrocity, but the mentality is the same. In fact, Hitler rationalized his actions with religion.

    Most of us here aren’t so simple minded that we see religion as being the cause of all the worlds problems. Religion is just a symptom, another branch of superstition that has very deep roots. We see uncritical thinking, slavish devotion to outdated traditions of thought as the culprit. If science causes problems, we can address the problems and do something about them–unless something interferes with the application of rational thought and action. Uncritical thinking is epidemic, and it has a lot of us worried.

    If you were a regular reader you would realize that this website is far more than just an excuse to indulge in contumely. PZ is very strategic. He’s trying to get people’s attention, and that’s important because simply letting the fanatics believe and do what they want, live and let live, has not been successful. Fanatical religious fundamentalists are trying to take over the country and reduce it to a theocracy. They are instituting “their” people into school boards and deciding what books our children can study, and they are definitely anti-science. One of them is in the White House. This is not melodrama and make believe, it’s actually happening. And in the next “Dover” trial that takes place they will be better prepared, even sneakier and more deceitful. I hope you’re right that they can’t succeed, but they’re already doing damage. Just read some of the posts on this blog.

    I don’t think anyone here has a problem with people like your father. If his beliefs didn’t interfere with his ability to face facts, if he kept the science pure, then power to him. We don’t rail against people who wonder if there is something more to life, some bigger picture. They aren’t threatening to bring us back to the dark ages, but the people who believe in Armageddon and creationism are. PZ is raising awareness because it has to be done. If you don’t agree with his approach then don’t subscribe to it; do things your way. But we don’t see confronting harmful religious beliefs with honest outrage as evil. At this website, as one quickly learns, the facts are more important than politeness, equable compromises and rule of law.

    And now I’m late and have to go.

  245. #245 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    There, happy now? Mea culpa.

    more than, considering I kinda overreacted to your original post.

    However, I still think you are pushing a rhetorically libertarian position in your argument.

    real world laws regarding treatment of course are more complex, as are any in general that balance the interests of the majority, or the state, against the rights of an individual.

    hell, even seat belt laws can generate some interesting debate along these lines.

    In my defense, I just wanted to make it clear that the issue is of course far more complex than a simplistic viewing of any individual rights involved.

    Especially in this case, given the obvious cult influences involved.

  246. #246 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    But praying did not build Dachau; ignorant “science” blessed the ultimate solution.

    i notice you put scare quotes around “science”, but not around “ignorant”.

    think about that before you spout further about the responsibility of “science” in the construction of concentration camps.

    think further about the issues of control involved, and politics, again, long before you broach the relevance of “science” to what you use as an example.

    and read this:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~tjneal/goering.jpg

    still think science had anything to do with what happened in Germany in WWII?

  247. #247 Marc Connor
    December 1, 2007

    But praying did not build Dachau; ignorant “science” blessed the ultimate solution.

    In case you haven’t realized how wrong you are yet, Jacob Bronowski put it best, in The Ascent of Man.

    It’s said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That’s false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

    Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken.”

  248. #248 Scott
    December 1, 2007

    I would just add that point that the 14-year old’s refusal to be treated should have been denied, not merely for his own sake, but as a message to all: this crap won’t be tolerated. The fact that he got his “wish” merely encourages the next case of religious abuse.

    And it’s not just abuse, but out and out relativism. In order to accomodate religious differences, we have this nice first amendment giving freedom of religious belief. All well and good when it stays as belief and doesn’t influence public policy, including research, teaching, and medicine. Unfortunately it’s come to be interpreted too often as: if you have a sincere belief, that’s a good enough justification to act as if it was true.

    And then I hear religious people ranting against the “relativism” supposedly taught in the academy. Hello?? You guys started it! As a secular philosopher I try very hard to combat ethical relativism, which comes to my classes typically in the form of students who insist upon their “right” to support certain ethical positions because, well, that’s just what their religion tells them to do, and they have a right to it. The judge’s decision to let the boy die simply confirms this kind of bizarre thinking, that if someone sincerely believes something, that’s OK then. Relativist crap.

  249. #249 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    The fact that he got his “wish” merely encourages the next case of religious abuse.

    expect the “rattlesnake” xian sects to use this to further justify allowing their members to handle dangerous snakes for “religious” purposes.

    sorry, but this is nothing short of cult behavior, and if the label “religion” wasn’t attached to it, we wouldn’t even be here right now talking about it.

  250. #250 Kseniya
    December 1, 2007

    think further about the issues of control involved, and politics, again, long before you broach the relevance of “science” to what you use as an example.

    And let’s not forget that “the final solution” was in large part the legacy of Martin Luther, who believed that demons lived at the bottoms of lakes.

  251. #251 Atheist in a Kilt
    December 2, 2007

    Orac,
    Your comment #240, that, well that just plain sums it up. Thanks for keeping it simple and powerful.

  252. #252 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    who believed that demons lived at the bottoms of lakes.

    ahh, so THAT’S what Nessy is!

    ML figured it out ages ago, long before “In Search Of” ever went looking.

    😛

  253. #253 Kseniya
    December 2, 2007

    Aye, laddie, but not quite: she emmigrated to Scotland when Luther started lobbing Holy Depth Charges (“Eins, Zwei… Fnf!”) into her lake.

    Scott (#249)

    Relativism – yes. That’s what I was trying to illustrate with my hypothetic examples of similar – but non-religious – reasons why an adolescent might firmly believe that death was his or her best choice. What judge would OK a death wish by a fourteen-year-old based on anything as trivial as the horror of minor physical disfigument or the despair of experiencing severe emotional and social breakdown? Why is the right to unnecessarily die contingent on religious conviction and nothing else?

  254. #254 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    Eins, Zwei… Fnf!

    drei, Sir!

    “…then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.”

    Amen

  255. #255 Uber
    December 2, 2007

    I don’t think the Bible is word-for- the word the Word of God. I think it’s one book of many you can find that contains words about God (or The Divine, or The Transcendent Reality, or The Big Kahuna–take your pick).

    So since it’s not the word for word word of God what method are you using for determining the is from the isn’t?

    This seems like you are knee deep in woo from here.

    To say that religion kills people, at least to say so without showing a little humility by conceding, sua sponte, the abhorrent record of “science” in this regard sounds tinny to me. The body count for the fruits of science seems to me to be up there, too.

    This is just stupidity. Science is a tool, a method. Now what people do with the ‘fruits’ of this methodology cannot be layed at science’s feet simply as it has no dogma.

    I see quite a bit of flawed logic and, frankly, what looks like hatred posted above

    A boy died needlessly. If that is not enough to truly inspire anger in you what would? You come here and concern troll people correctly outraged over a childs death while those who are supposed to care for him brainwash him and allow it to happen and then lecture those who are angry about it for doing so. Talk about a backwards mindset.

  256. #256 Neil Schipper
    December 2, 2007

    Orac,

    About your comment #240 in reply to my prior one: your analysis is good (and it has the benefit of meaningful numbers, while my numbers were knowingly pulled out of the air).

    However, do you see that you are dealing with a different question (namely, the impact of refusing treatment)? You have not dealt with the question of whether we can conclude that the aunt is a murderer, or even a manslaughterer.

  257. #257 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    You have not dealt with the question of whether we can conclude that the aunt is a murderer, or even a manslaughterer.

    here ya go:

    I raise my kids to think that they must be able to survive being bitten by poisonous snakes, or surely it means they are rejected by the Lord and will go to hell (based on a specific interpretation of several bible verses).

    my kid, having been thoroughly indoctrinated with this belief, when the occasion arises is exposed to poisonous snakes, is bitten and dies.

    who is responsible?

    btw, if you think I pulled that out of my ass, think again. There is a very well known american xian sect that does just this. It’s even been on various news and TV proggies over the years.

    as to whether or not the parents or peers are responsible for injury to the children involved, it’s not hard to look up the relevant court cases and see for yourself.

    I’ll give you one guess as to who was found responsible for injury to the minors.

  258. #258 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    …btw, this discussion, and the court cases relevant to it, are nothing new:

    http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0041-9494(195921)26%3A3%3C471%3ARUCSHR%3E2.0.CO%3B2-O

    note that paper is from 1959.

    and here’s a bit on the pentecostal snake handlers:

    http://www.rickross.com/groups/snake.html

    the real question to ask yourself is:

    how responsible are cult members for harm caused to people they indoctrinate into cults?

    the religion tag here just confuses the issue where it shouldn’t.

    someday, we might be able to get past that, but at this point, if it has the label “relgion” attached to it, it requires extra effort to bypass the automatic “pass” this fucked up society gives cult groups.

  259. #259 Timothy Travis
    December 2, 2007

    Thanks for the day I spent here. You gave me a lot to think and wonder about. I didn’t realize the extent to which people who are not religious misunderstand spirituality, the extent to which the blasphemy (misleading people about the nature of God) of the fundamentalists has defined religion in people’s minds in this country. The fact that I don’t think the Christian bible (or a “church,” for that matter) is a reliable oracle and infallible guide for behavior leads someone to challenge me as to what there is upon which I could possibly rely–and I have to say I am taken aback at such a question. it seems an appallingly naive question, to me, on the order of, “Well, if we don’t use nuclear power how will we generate electricity?”

    I am also troubled, by the way, at how people here seem to think that the people they fear, about whom they are outraged, are somehow different than they are. That’s a set up for, at the far end of the continuum, genocide. The NAZI’s were not evil monsters unlike you and me, any more than the Jews were evil monsters unlike they were. This us-and-them stuff is, to call upon a modern prophet’s characterization, all about false karass.

    The evil that took almost total control of Germany (the evil that is everywhere all the time and is pretty high up on the ascendency scale in the USA right now) is a part of the banality of everyday life everywhere (religious or not), woven into the fabric of our human cultures–which is why it is so dangerous. Yes, religious institutions do come under the control of that evil. So do scientific institutions. Both are, as someone wrote above of science, just tools.

    We are looking for drooling fiends in trench coats–something totally “other”– but by far and away the greatest number of child molesters are very ordinary people, indistinguishable in almost every way from the people we see on the bus and at the mall–or in the mirror. Evil can control the most apparently benign people.

    Of course scientific endeavor is under attack (as is the law, by the way) by alienated and anxiety ridden people who think that controlling and being controlled is the way to security/salvation. The world is full of such people–we are all such people (people who “just” want others to leave them alone are as much demanding control over what others do as anyone else–people who just want to be “left alone,” in my experience, often really want to be unaccountable for the grief they cause others).

    People writing here believe just as fervently (and, in the last analysis just as much on faith) that if everyone were just like them then things would be fine. I would hope that educated and thoughtful people might see that kind of myopia in themselves and, in seeing that, not hold onto and act under the power of the same kinds of emotions and fears behind the very kinds of crimes that raise such outrage in them.

    But the way out of all this is not taking the anger that one naturally feels at the way people act, the stupid things they do, and using it to fuel further hatred and alienation. Hatred and alienation doesn’t get us where we all (and I do mean all) really want to go. Every major religion–no matter how some people twist and distort it (as natural selection is often twisted by those who want to use it to control and dominate others)–at bottom is about that truth. The fact that people do not observe that truth does not make it any less the truth–just as the fact that people sometimes ignore gravity doesn’t mean that gravity isn’t “true.” It just means, in both cases, that people come to a bad end. With gravity the outcome is just a little more immediate.

    A lot of Christians don’t really have “faith.” They are unwilling to live the way their religion says they should live. They have a propositional faith about what God is about, what God is like, how God works, why God works that way (all of these are, in Quaker speak, “notions”–things one can never know and shouldn’t spend much time thinking about) but they have very little faith in what all religions know about how people should live with one another. They would not think of ignoring the faith they have in gravity the way they ignore the faith they claim to have in loving God with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves. Not much neighbor as self going on, I will admit, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t “work”–it just means people are afraid to do it.

    And one need not be religious to come to that conclusion. There are plenty of people who think of themselves as purely rational thinkers who have come to this conclusion. Of course, those who rationally understand the connectedness of humanity and the universe also ignore what they “understand,” too often, in dealing with people who threaten them, just as people who claim religious faith in such a view fail to live up to in when the chips are, shall we say, down.

    War, ultimate abandonment of religious faith in favor of using force to control and dominate others–whether between nations with guns or between people in political and social struggle–doesn’t solve the problems. Nor does using war to keep others from imposing their will on us work. Never has, never will. It just sets up the next round of the same problem. The truth of this is most apparent in places like the former Yugoslavia. A spectacular example, by the way, of a different approach is the (admittedly self interested) rebuilding of our “enemies” after World War II. Germany and Japan, two “troublemakers,” (from the American perspective) for quite a few years were “pacified” not by grinding them into the ground but by building them up, supporting and encouraging them. Not a perfect effort, but a step in the right direction that has been effective in taking two war prone powers off of the board.

    Well, as I say, thanks for the fun. I do not mean that sarcastically (this internet “communication” is not very conducive to nuance). This has been fun and edifying.

    Timothy Travis
    Bridge City Friends Meeting
    Portland, Oregon

    ” The most important thing is searching for the most important thing.”

    Suzuki Roshi.

    “Not always so.”

    Suziki Roshi

  260. #260 BlueIndependent
    December 2, 2007

    @ 241:

    Your argument about supposed failures of secularism is entirely dishonest, whether you thought it was or not. Praying didn’t build Dachau, but a sense of personal and group elitism, bolstered by clear religious prognostication, did. Hitler was NOT secular. STOP saying he was. Once we all agree to stop repeating bullshit, the better off we’ll all be.

    Your argument vis a vis the Nazis is also dishonest in that you’re blaming scientists for what non-scientists did to other people, supposedly based on the findings of science. Hitler was not a scientist, and I gather neither are you. To proffer the idea that Hitler, as a non-scientist, was reading Darwin even remotely correctly, is to assume far too much. Hitler had his own scientists, but as Hitchens points out, “scientists” of that stripe really are anything but true scientists. They work to a predetermined end, do not allow inquiry or dissension, they do not work from a logical basis, much like the Lysenkoism of the Soviet regime. They’re one and the same. Don’t blame real scientists for what non-scienstists do. This is like blaming your family physician for a what snake oil salesman has screwed up in your treatment.

    Also, your argument presupposes that scientists simply communicating a theory about evolution is tantamount to civil disobedience, or worse, insurrection. Your argument is criticizing communication itself, not the substance. It also assumes that humans are too incompetent to understand the argument and its underlying principles, and thus should not be exposed to it lest they destroy themselves. It’s an argument from ignorance against thought and serious inquiry dressed up as elitist concern trolling.

    As for your concern that we cannot defeat fundamentalism because we’re employing the same kind of ignorance, to that I say congratulations on appeasing religious fundamentalists. There’s a difference here: atheists have nothing to be “fundamentalist” about beyond the defense of science. They are not fundamentalists telling people how to live, what to believe, who to believe, what they can and can’t do in a bedroom with other adults, what they can and cannot say or think, do, drink, eat, watch on TV, listen to on the radio, read in a magazine, etc. Do you not get that?

    Religious fundamentalism is the problem here, and those that espouse it have felt their oats for far too long. They think they have an opportunity, now more than ever, to push their tripe on civil society. And I for one am not about to let it happen. I’ll be damned if this place turns into a tin-hat dictatorship like the crapholes in the middle east, Africa and NK that oppress their people with some form of religious dogma, be it about a man (Kim Jong Il) or an unseen god. It is religion that threatens civil society. If there are so many reasonable Christians, Muslims, etc. out there, then stand the F up, get some courage, and beat back these cretins spouting return to “family values” as the old “traditional gender roles” argument, and other nonsense.

    Fighting fundamentalism means beating down the BS it spews, not giving it air time in the interest of fairness. It’s patently unfair doctrine by nature, because it is not reasonable. Religion can never truly be questioned because it is too subjective and relies on non-witnessable, non-replicable personal experience; science can be questioned and is, and has a system in place with which to police it. That is why reason works and religion doesn’t.

  261. #261 Jaycubed
    December 2, 2007

    A common but serious error runs through many of these posts. That error is the confusion between science and technology

    Science is a verb, a process. Science is the process by which people seek to understand reality. It is not political. It has no agenda.

    Scientists, however, are people who are political and have agendas. They are often incorrect about reality, but reality pushes back. Science pushes back against scientists and they either accept what reality is telling them or they cease to be scientists. Not everyone who calls themselves a scientist is an actual practitioner of science. The best examples of scientists are those who strongly expect “A” to happen and when “B” happens they examine the evidence and their prejudices until they understand reality more accurately and “change their minds” so that their minds concur with the evidence.

    Technology is not the same as science, even though it is born from science’s discoveries. Technology is the result of cooking from a cookbook: the cookbook is written by scientists, but if it is good science then anyone can cook from that cookbook. Technology is not even the process of cooking, it is the results/products (the noun) of cooking. And this is where the trouble begins.

    Science makes absolutely no impact on reality. Reality, instead, impacts science.

    The application of scientific knowledge does impact reality; the key being “application”. The application of ignorance also impacts reality. It is the creative process itself that changes things.

    It is not a matter of intent. Reality has no concern with the intent of anyone. Reality has concern by what actions are performed. The most compassionate actions can have the most horrible results. Most actions are not concerned with compassion and are instead concerned with the Fairy called “Profit”.

    Consider the so-called “Green Revolution”. Scientists discover insights into the natures of plant growth & “pest” control. These insights are applied by huge corporations whose sole interest is Profit. These corporations produce seeds/strains of plants that do not reproduce, require the application of herbicidal & insecticidal poisons (that the plants have been bred to have resistance to) in order to survive competition from naturally occuring competitors. These crops typically are bred, not to feed the local population, but as exportable cash crops. It is necessary to buy new crops and fertilizers and insecticides every season. These cash crops displace the varieties of food crops which were originally grown with a single cash crop, making the system vulnerable to crashing because of any minor problem, such as a drought or cold snap or heatwave or new/resistant pest. The new agricultural system collapses with famine or massive indebtedness (from having to import foodstuffs). Or the system works for awhile and the population grows, but because of the lack of food variety such as was provided by the traditional produce there are increases in a variety of diseases. Then when the inevitable mono-crop collapse occurs, even more people are subject to famine & disease.

    It is not science that is the problem, it is the application of technology that causes the problems.

    For example, it was not German scientific advances in chemistry that created the gas chambers, it was German technology driven by politics and religion (Faith in the superiority of Aryans) that built them.
    .

  262. #262 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    I didn’t realize the extent to which people who are not religious misunderstand spirituality

    first off, you should think about the fact that “sprituality” and “religion” are not at all synonymous.

    In fact, I think you have SO much to think about, we shouldn’t be hearing from you again for at least another year or two.

  263. #263 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    That’s a set up for, at the far end of the continuum, genocide.

    *Yawn*

    uh, who exactly is the extremist here?

    plank-eye-self

  264. #264 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    Nor does using war to keep others from imposing their will on us work.

    LOL

    I rather think you might want to reword that.

    war doesn’t stop people from HAVING a different will, but history has clearly shown its effectiveness in thwarting the absolute imposition of that will, for better or worse.

    or did you think that the war for independence in this country did nothing to stop the imposition of the King’s will?

  265. #265 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 2, 2007

    How do you deal with the very similar issues of right to die for adults? Would the European system force Terry Schiavo to stay a vegtable? Does Europe deny adults the right to chose not to be recessitated (sp)?

    In Europe, are all minors absolutely denied all autonomy over their bodies? For example, can a raped 15 year old get an abortion over the objections of her parents?

    I bet not all of this is the same throughout Europe, not even throughout the 27 countries of the EU.

    However, Terry Schiavo had no brain cortex anymore. She’d have been declared dead as soon as that became known. On the other hand, “forcing” doesn’t apply to someone without a brain cortex anyway…

    New Clackamas County District Attorney Terry Gustafson wants to file charges, but has concluded that Oregon laws providing religious immunity to charges of homicide by abuse or neglect and manslaughter, enacted in 1995 and 1997, prevent her from doing so.”

    Religious immunity to charges of hom[in]icide by abuse or neglect and manslaughter? Can I believe my eyes?

    This is absolutely incredible.

    They have a propositional faith about what God is about, what God is like, how God works, why God works that way (all of these are, in Quaker speak, “notions”–things one can never know and shouldn’t spend much time thinking about)

    Whether God exists in the first place is a “notion”, too…

    Science is a verb

    I cannot resist pointing out that it isn’t. “Verb” itself isn’t a verb either.* The rest of your comment is spot-on, though!

    * Except in the joke about polysynthetic languages: “Why noun when you can verb?”

  266. #266 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 2, 2007

    How do you deal with the very similar issues of right to die for adults? Would the European system force Terry Schiavo to stay a vegtable? Does Europe deny adults the right to chose not to be recessitated (sp)?

    In Europe, are all minors absolutely denied all autonomy over their bodies? For example, can a raped 15 year old get an abortion over the objections of her parents?

    I bet not all of this is the same throughout Europe, not even throughout the 27 countries of the EU.

    However, Terry Schiavo had no brain cortex anymore. She’d have been declared dead as soon as that became known. On the other hand, “forcing” doesn’t apply to someone without a brain cortex anyway…

    New Clackamas County District Attorney Terry Gustafson wants to file charges, but has concluded that Oregon laws providing religious immunity to charges of homicide by abuse or neglect and manslaughter, enacted in 1995 and 1997, prevent her from doing so.”

    Religious immunity to charges of hom[in]icide by abuse or neglect and manslaughter? Can I believe my eyes?

    This is absolutely incredible.

    They have a propositional faith about what God is about, what God is like, how God works, why God works that way (all of these are, in Quaker speak, “notions”–things one can never know and shouldn’t spend much time thinking about)

    Whether God exists in the first place is a “notion”, too…

    Science is a verb

    I cannot resist pointing out that it isn’t. “Verb” itself isn’t a verb either.* The rest of your comment is spot-on, though!

    * Except in the joke about polysynthetic languages: “Why noun when you can verb?”

  267. #267 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    Religious immunity to charges of hom[in]icide by abuse or neglect and manslaughter? Can I believe my eyes?

    hard to say without looking at the actual statutes in question, but it certainly sounds like it on the surface, and there is support for it here:

    http://www.childrenshealthcare.org/legal.htm

    there was a decent article published on this issue a few years back:

    1. Seth Asser and Rita Swan, “Child Fatalities from Religion-motivated Medical Neglect,” Pediatrics 101 (April 1998): 625-29.

    which is touched on in this discussion:

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=swan_19_1

  268. #268 Thomas Robey
    December 2, 2007

    Perhaps we should all consider an alternative central point of this case to be not the religious influence, but the medical legal principles related to autonomy. Orac points this out over at Respectful Insolance, and I take a shot at compiling some facts and perspectives that have not surfaced here.

  269. #269 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    Perhaps we should all consider an alternative central point of this case to be not the religious influence, but the medical legal principles related to autonomy.

    It’s already been addressed in this thread, scroll up a ways.

  270. #270 Sven DiMilo
    December 2, 2007

    Whether God exists in the first place is a “notion”, too

    I second that emotion.
    (Motown reference)

  271. #271 jomega
    December 2, 2007

    Hank Fox wrote: “So you’d agree that 8th graders should be allowed to operate chainsaws?” (twice)

    By 8th grade I had been given some of the family woodcutting duties, so I don’t have much problem with that… which probably doesn’t say as much about my upbringing as the fact that I started learning to use a gun at the age of seven…

    More to the point of this thread, though, I was initially inclined to agree with the idea that an eighth grader could give informed consent to a matter of their own life and death; however, given that a lot of kids that age probably haven’t witnessed the death of anything greater than an insect in today’s urban culture, I would imagine that this would be entirely too abstract a concept to make an informed decision about for many of today’s youth.

    Given that, I’d have to agree with those saying that this amounts to a case of criminal neglect.

  272. #272 Timothy Travis
    December 2, 2007

    I was totally done here and came back to snip a couple of things for my own blog and I saw this:

    “Hitler was NOT secular. STOP saying he was. Once we all agree to stop repeating bullshit, the better off we’ll all be.”

    Someone wrote somewhere up above that something I wrote was a candidate for the most stupid thing ever written–I’ll see what I wrote and raise you this.

    I do agree that once we all agree to stop repeating things that are demonstrably untrue the better off we will be.

    And this stuff about Hitler being religious is as easy to disprove as the nonesense about there never having been a holocaust.

    The consensus among historians (although not among atheist and Libertarian propagandists on various website and apparently those who need to believe them so they can blame religion for every bad thing that has ever happened) is that Hitler used the religious establishment, and the scientific establishment and every other establishment in Germany, to justify and organize support for his totally secular ideology.

    He was secular and so was his ideology. He was not religious and his ideology was not religous. He didn’t call it the National Christian Worker’s Party–he called it the National Socialist…Socialist–an atheistic ideology.

    Look it up in the quantative, historical, data–not the qualitative, what people think is true, data.

    Someone wrote that facts mattered on this “web page.” I wonder if he really believed that or trying to put one over on me.

    Facts? Hitler was religous? National Socialism was a religious movement? Facts?

    I do appreciate, however, that this comment at least disagreed with something I actually wrote, instead of commenting on something I didn’t write but that the person posting could–or wanted to–refute.

    Timothy Travis
    Bridge City Friends Meeting
    Portland, Oregon

  273. #273 Ichthyic
    December 2, 2007

    that is the most twisted, back-assward analysis of a contention I think I’ve seen in the last week.

    bravo, Timothy.

    National Socialism was a religious movement?

    you can claim the true scottsman’s fallacy for yourself if you wish (Hitler was no true xian), but all those pictures of the man meeting with clergy, his regular church attendance, the construction of the ideology of the national socialist party around historical german religious mythos (yes, lots of references to that too, regardless of you discounting it all as being from “biased” sources – read Mein Kampf sometime), rather suggests otherwise. The man obviously recognized the power religious ideology held for social control, and worked hard to capitalize on it.

    that’s most certainly NOT secular.

    However, the bottom line is:
    None of it matters one whit.

    can you answer why, I wonder?
    I rather doubt it.

    Of course, you also failed to even bother to respond to the many other criticisms of your various contentions.

    whatever.

    you bore me.

  274. #274 Melissa
    December 3, 2007

    OK I am a Jehovah Witness and I was NOT going to come into this blog to read it BUT I was curious on what I would read and I was right NOT GOOD THINGS. Let me just say this HE WAS NOT brainwashed by NO MEANS. I was raised a Witness and I am now 36 I NEVER once felt like I was having that done to me. ALSO from someone to say his Aunt murdered him. WHAT ABOUT THOSE getting ABORTIONS. NOW THAT IS MURDER, WHAT about those WHO SMOKE AND PREGNANT They are NOT helping their child that has NO RIGHT to say STOP MOM. I could go on and on but I just wanted to let you that read this we do NOT brainwash our children we TEACH them the right from the wrong and that is all we can do. Personally 8th graders ARE SMART and pretty much now right from wrong. This little boy HAS THE CHANCE of Everlasting life in a NEW WORLD with no sickness and meaness and IF any of you EVER get a knock at your door LISTEN to them WHAT is it going to hurt you. They will not brain wash you TRY to listen that is ALL we ask of you and when the end DOES come which we are not sure when then you MIGHT have a chance to listen to us AGAIN. OH and religion is NOT Child Abuse. Child Abuse would be ABORTIONS and those who are NOT to smart and keep having kids that do nto even tke care of the ones they have and hit them.

  275. #275 BlueIndependent
    December 3, 2007

    #272:

    You need to go back and reread history, now. Hitler co-opted the National Socialist name. Co-opting a name != co-opting the group’s platform. That you don’t know this is the underlying problem with what you’re saying. And yes, Hitler was religiously motivated and used religious language. I ask you again to STOP lying, or at least believing what is not true.

    Also, socialism is not communism. You’d be wise to understand the distinction. It is Marx who called religion the opiate of the masses (perhaps the one thing he was right about). Communism is the anti-religion doctrine (that ironically puts the state in the place a god normally inhabits). Socialism does not advocate anti-religious doctrine, and in fact many of history’s greatest examples of socialists have been religious people themselves. Woody Guthrie in fact was an avowed communist and wrote better religious songs than you’ll find in any church.

    You are displaying some serious gaps in your historical worldview.

  276. #276 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    HE WAS NOT brainwashed by NO MEANS. I was raised a Witness and I am now 36 I NEVER once felt like I was having that done to me.

    LOL

    talk about not grasping the concept.

    Personally 8th graders ARE SMART and pretty much now right from wrong.

    but not how to spell, evidently, even if they are pretending to be 36.

    with the odd use of all caps, I keep wondering if there is some secret message in there…

    hmm, anybody make anything out of the all caps words?

    OK
    NOT
    BUT
    NOT
    GOOD THINGS
    HE WAS NOT
    NO MEANS
    NEVER
    ALSO
    WHAT ABOUT THOSE
    ABORTIONS
    NOW THAT IS MURDER, WHAT
    WHO SMOKE AND PREGNANT
    NOT
    NO RIGHT
    STOP MOM
    NOT
    TEACH
    ARE SMART
    HAS THE CHANCE
    NEW WORLD
    IF
    EVER
    LISTEN
    WHAT
    TRY
    ALL
    DOES
    MIGHT
    AGAIN
    OH
    NOT
    ABORTIONS
    NOT

    Is it a simple word jumble puzzle, or is there really a secret JW code?

    I notice the word “not” is capitalized quite often (always except in two cases, one being a misspelling.

    is that part of the key to the code?

    We need to put the code-crackers on this one right away. Where is Billy Dembski when you actually need him?

  277. #277 Darwin's Minion
    December 3, 2007

    @#272: oh, shut up, will you? Hitler was a believer in the supernatural right down to his core. He didn’t just spout supernatural rethoric, he believed in it. Just read his horrible book, or listen to his speeches. Oh, and the idea that the NSDAP was a bunch of secularists is totally laughable. Ever heard of the Wewelsburg, or the schwarze Sonne? If not, well, I suggest you do some more reading up on history before commenting here again. Your half-knowledge doesn’t impress anyone.

  278. #278 MartinM
    December 3, 2007

    We need to put the code-crackers on this one right away. Where is Billy Dembski when you actually need him?

    I was going to point out that fake mathematicians generally aren’t much good at code-cracking, but it occurred to me that pulling words out of context and making them say something not present in the original text really is in his field. Who better than a creationist?

    Come to think of it, that could explain a great deal about what passes for ‘intelligence’ these days.

  279. #279 Timothy Travis
    December 3, 2007

    Back when I did divorce law I ran into a tactic called “parroting.” What one does is accuse one’s opponent of doing that which one is doing oneself.

    Since in a divorce case there really is no referee except in the court room, itself, the “negotiations” are a lot like an internet “discussion,” a lot like this one.

    So, I am not as surprised as I might have been two days ago, to find this tactic going on in a science blog where people have such a high opinion of their own rationality.

    “Of course, you also failed to even bother to respond to the many other criticisms of your various contentions.
    whatever.
    you bore me.”

    Well, I bore you enough that you keep right on reading and responding with more obsfucation, deflection, avoidance, conflation, and refusing to deal with what I write. Parroting? Polly, indeed, craves a cracker.

    Well, here it is again:

    People have written here that those they disagree with them should all die, that there should be a hell so they could rot in it (read the comments!), all kinds of their civil rights should be curtailed to, among other things, pass their beliefs on to their children. Judges who make decisions you disagree with should be “tried” (the crime is, what? applying the law when it offends right thinking people?”) or resign (the only reason a judge could possibly rule in a way with which right thinking people disagree is that he’s a religious fanatic).

    Not one of you–not a single one of you– has said, “Hey, we’re a little out of control, here, like them or not, they are human beings.”

    I bore you.

    But you can’t put it down, can you? Perhaps you cannot stop trying to dismiss me because something is telling you there something to what I am saying about you and your divisive, alienating and, frankly, hateful treatment of people you define as a homogeneous group that you have defined in the shape of your own fears, one that acts as you act toward other people–projection is the word that comes to mind.

    Ichthyic, you have consistently refused to acknowledge the main point I am making about the dangerous hatred people in this group espouses against a whole class of people, some of whom have some of the characteristics they ascribe to all in the group and some of whom do not. This justifies outrageous demands here that “religious” people be suppressed and controlled and even worse.

    This group has a scapegoat, which is not how people guided by rationality deal with their problems.

    This kind of hatred is dangerous no matter who engages in it, whether it is in the service of “science” or “religion.” This is just evil.

    For a bunch of people I’d probably like (and have a lot to talk about other than this subject) if I met and socialized with you I have come to really fear you.

    Some of you I presume are university and college instructors–how are you going to deal with my daughter (who never evangelizes) when you find out she’s a Quaker? Are you going to do to her what you have done to me–will you define her as your caricature of “Christians” and then deal with her as that instead of another human being?

    I am not evangelizing you–I don’t care what you believe. I haven’t once asked anyone to believe anything I believe–in fact, you know very little about what I actually believe because I haven’t written about that very much–the label is all you need to make a judgment to consign someone to the ash heap of your distorted views. Religious–bad.

    But I care about how you treat people–I care about how everyone treats people. That’s been the message you continue to ignore in favor of taking shots at me as though I were the phantom that haunt you.

    How we treat one another–even as we oppose or work together on those things we agree or disagree on–is going to determine how it goes for us (and not “in the sky”–don’t presume to think that I believe in an afterlife of some sort or in “invisible men” or “sky pixies”) and for our children. We live in a country–and you write in a blog– where compassion and connection are not as valued as a clever sneer and promoting alienation.

    Yeah, I know. Facts are what counts. “Facts” like National Socialism was a religious movement.

    Of course people who use religions (or anything else) as vehicles for hatred and to control other people are to be feared and dealt with. But how you deal that defines you, not them. And if you become like you conceive them to be in order to defeat them then, precisely, in what sense have you defeated them?

    You are acting as dangerously toward others as the people you are afraid of and you really don’t see that. Some of you will say anything to make your point–and you will also ignore anything inconvenient to keep the discussion on your “talking points.” You are huddling by the fire muttering about the tribe across the river. Of course, they are huddled around their fire, too, muttering about you. It takes two to keep a cycle going…

    I am sure that I do bore you. Anything that isn’t an over-generalized half truth that fits in with your prejudices (or a hail and hearty “right on” to such) seems to me to be boring to you.

    I’ll stop boring you. It does take two to keep a cycle going and I want out of this one.

    Anyone who seriously would like to dialogue about such issues can find me and we can do that off line…less heat but, hey, more light.

    Thanks again for all the opportunity to work things through and to have the benefit of the challenge.

    Timothy Travis
    Bridge City Friends Meeting
    Portland, Oregon

    You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.

    –Albert Einstein, (attributed)

  280. #280 Bill Dauphin
    December 3, 2007

    Melissa@274:

    I confess I didn’t make it through your entire comment, because THE alternating CAPITALIZATION hurt my EYES… but ponder, if you will, on the thought that one hallmark of successful (note the standard form for indicating emphasis) brainwashing is that the brainwashee not be aware of having been brainwashed. Jus’ sayin’…

    On a lighter note…

    Science is a verb

    I cannot resist pointing out that it isn’t.

    Of course it isn’t… technically. But the formulation “[noun] is a verb” is, in my experience, a fairly common figure of speech for indicating the active character of the thing named by [noun]. In Spider and Jeanne Robinson’s Stardance (or one of its sequels; they run together in my mind), there’s a zero-gee dance number titled “Weight is a Verb,” which is not only a figure of speech of the type described, but is also a pun (if you consider homophones), and, given the Buddhist themes in the novel (not to mention Spider’s infamous love of puns), almost certainly a deliberate one.

  281. #281 Jaycubed
    December 3, 2007

    Science is a verb
    I cannot resist pointing out that it isn’t. “Verb” itself isn’t a verb either.
    Posted by: David Marjanovi?, OM”

    The word “science” is not a verb, but science itself is a verb; it is a process not a thing. Thinking of science as a noun, such as thinking that science is a body of knowledge, is a category error often made by pseudo-scientists & anti-science religionists. If science were just a body of knowledge than there is little problem exchanging one body of knowledge for another; like trading I.D. for Evolution.

    I must admit a strong influence from Bucky Fuller’s I Seem To Be A Verb in considering not just science, but myself and every other person as a verb, a work in progress. A person’s name is a noun: that person is a verb.

    You are of course correct that “verb” is always a noun, it is never a process or action.

    ps.
    Thanks for your other comments.

  282. #282 AtheistAcolyte
    December 3, 2007

    People have written here that those they disagree with them should all die, that there should be a hell so they could rot in it (read the comments!), all kinds of their civil rights should be curtailed to, among other things, pass their beliefs on to their children. Judges who make decisions you disagree with should be “tried” (the crime is, what? applying the law when it offends right thinking people?”) or resign (the only reason a judge could possibly rule in a way with which right thinking people disagree is that he’s a religious fanatic).

    Not one of you–not a single one of you– has said, “Hey, we’re a little out of control, here, like them or not, they are human beings.”

    If I may, I’d like to intercede here.

    What civil right is it exactly which allows you to indoctrinate your child with irrational beliefs which will lead to needless harm of a fatal nature? The point has been brought up that blood transfusions are simple, fast and lifesaving. They are very important. Handling asps is a very dangerous activity, and teaching your child (who is evolutionarily programmed to trust you, ironically) that it is a “test of faith”, and that having this brand of “faith” is a virtue is dangerous. I’m not advocating that all religious belief be considered dangerous, because not all religious belief will lead to demonstrably and needlessly fatal consequences. For what it’s worth, I have no problem with religious people in general. I know many very intelligent religious people and many very stupid atheists. Raising a child should be a very important part of everyone’s life.

    However, if you desire to raise your child to be a successful member of society, you need to raise them rationally. That is to say, you must teach them critical thinking skills, you must teach them to reason for themselves, and you must, above all else, not want them to die needlessly. You may be able to work this in with Sunday School or madrassah. If so, bully for you. I’d rather encourage them to examine all contentions critically, and not give them any irrational belief which circumvents their armor of reasoning. In networking terms, you could have the best damn firewall there is, but if you exclude one port from its protection, you’re going to get breached.

    Teaching a child they must not accept blood transfusions is as dangerous as teaching them they must not accept antibiotics. Sure, if you’re lucky, you may not need them, but if you do, you’re screwed. Just because it’s religion doesn’t mean it gets a free pass. If your beliefs are that a man died, came back to life after three days, (36 hours, tops. 35 if it was the weekend they put the clocks forward) and then rose up off the ground and floated into the sky forty days later, you’d better be ready to support them rationally or lose them.

    That such an apparently intelligent, mature yet painfully misguided young man lost his life for no reason at all is a tragedy. That we should see this as a loving god calling one of his children back is insulting. That you call us “hateful” and “divisive” and “alienating” when hateful, divisive and alienating speech is all we hear from religious folks who frequent this blog is infuriating.

    This group has a scapegoat, which is not how people guided by rationality deal with their problems.

    Religion is not the scapegoat, any more than the Titanic’s scapegoat is the iceberg.

    Some of you I presume are university and college instructors–how are you going to deal with my daughter (who never evangelizes) when you find out she’s a Quaker? Are you going to do to her what you have done to me–will you define her as your caricature of “Christians” and then deal with her as that instead of another human being?

    Well, they may just teach your daughter.

    I am not evangelizing you–I don’t care what you believe. I haven’t once asked anyone to believe anything I believe–in fact, you know very little about what I actually believe because I haven’t written about that very much–the label is all you need to make a judgment to consign someone to the ash heap of your distorted views. Religious–bad.

    No, had you brought up some valid points rather than hoary, rotted chestnuts from the trunk of religious apologetics, we would have commented on those. Instead, we got a windy introduction and these three paragraphs of painfully old “finger-pointing” and “concern trolling”:

    I do observe, as a first time reader of this blog, that it seems to me that hysteria, hyperbole and histrionics are not limited to religious people. To say that religion kills people, at least to say so without showing a little humility by conceding, sua sponte, the abhorrent record of “science” in this regard sounds tinny to me. The body count for the fruits of science seems to me to be up there, too.

    Seems to me, on this one read, that there are people on the science side of things ( and I didn’t realize the extent to which things seem to have a “science” side) who are as anxious to take up the mantle of ultimate authority to judge others and talk about crushing people who do not share their basic assumptions as there are “religious” people out there who are under that same power.

    I see quite a bit of flawed logic and, frankly, what looks like hatred posted above. I would have hoped to see more from highly educated and concerned people that was coming from a place of simplicity, harmony, equality, community and integrity. And compassion.

    I’m not quite sure what the actual argument was besides “You guys are mean”. You make an allusion of flawed logic, but no specific details. You make a comment about the “body count” of science, but again, no details. (And yet, this point has been dealt with in the comments long since)

    Rational discourse is favored here more than polite discourse. Be as rude as you dare, but if the facts aren’t on your side, people here will slam you down.

    But I care about how you treat people–I care about how everyone treats people. That’s been the message you continue to ignore in favor of taking shots at me as though I were the phantom that haunt you.

    How we treat one another–even as we oppose or work together on those things we agree or disagree on–is going to determine how it goes for us (and not “in the sky”–don’t presume to think that I believe in an afterlife of some sort or in “invisible men” or “sky pixies”) and for our children. We live in a country–and you write in a blog– where compassion and connection are not as valued as a clever sneer and promoting alienation.

    Why should we be compassionate towards irrational, superfluous and fatal beliefs again? If you can’t actually read it, there are real arguments contained within our snide.

    You are acting as dangerously toward others as the people you are afraid of and you really don’t see that. Some of you will say anything to make your point–and you will also ignore anything inconvenient to keep the discussion on your “talking points.” You are huddling by the fire muttering about the tribe across the river. Of course, they are huddled around their fire, too, muttering about you. It takes two to keep a cycle going…

    And you do nothing but ad hominem us. “You’re mean” is the general crux of your windy arguments. “I don’t care; prove me wrong” is the common retort. The best thing about being right or wrong is that politeness doesn’t really enter into it. It’s entirely possible to be a right asshole and a wrong sweetheart.

    I am sure that I do bore you. Anything that isn’t an over-generalized half truth that fits in with your prejudices (or a hail and hearty “right on” to such) seems to me to be boring to you.

    I’ll stop boring you. It does take two to keep a cycle going and I want out of this one.

    I don’t presume to speak for all, but I enjoy a hearty debate, so long as it’s not one-sided. I actually enjoy rational discourse over a topic – it’s thrilling. Unfortunately, you have not provided any such robust argument. Merely an ad hominem and concern trolling.

    “Any nitwit can grab a vaguely relevant quote to make it look like they have a deeper meaning”
    –AtheistAcolyte

  283. #283 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    I was going to point out that fake mathematicians generally aren’t much good at code-cracking,

    actually, after the DaVinci Code came out on film, Dembski did spend some time with the “bible code” issue on his UD site, and IIRC, trying to relate it to some ridiculous notion of messages in DNA or some such nonsense.

    there is little doubt these twisted individuals are very interested in “secret messages”.

    One would think they aspire to Masonhood…

  284. #284 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    .less heat but, hey, more light.

    less heat because nobody is there to call you on your BS, but most certainly not more light.

    go back to your closet, professor.

  285. #285 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    One would think they aspire to Masonhood…

    OTOH, wasn’t John Nash inordinately attracted to “secret codes”?

    hmm, now what was the reason for that again…

  286. #286 MNObserver
    December 3, 2007

    Years ago when I just started practicing law, I helped defend a case involving a young man (aged 20 or so) who was injured when he was a passenger in a car that was driven into the path of an oncoming, but slow-moving, train. His internal injuries were causing blood loss, but both he and his parents refused the transfusions that would have saved his life, based on their religious beliefs. Although it was their choice to let their son die, the parents still pursued litigation against the railroad.

    I don’t think I’ll ever forget hearing the Emergency Room doctor tell the story of what happened that afternoon. Usually doctors see so many people that they have to use the medical records to testify as to what they did, but years later, this doctor recalled it all as if it had happened the day before. The frustration and absolute helplessness he felt by the irrational decisions made by the family were fresh in his mind. He made every effort to separate the young man from his parents to make sure the decision was one made on his own, not with mom and dad standing there.

    The senior partner I was working with was so angry that these people let their son die needlessly, but still chose to sue whoever they could go after: the railroad, the driver of the car, the property owner. It was an all around awful case.

  287. #287 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    The senior partner I was working with was so angry that these people let their son die needlessly, but still chose to sue whoever they could go after: the railroad, the driver of the car, the property owner. It was an all around awful case

    hmm.

    Harsh as it might sound, I could envision a defense attorney arguing in a potential damages phase that the parents aren’t entitled to damages for “death”, since they were the ones actually, in the end, responsible for it.

    injury, yes, death, no.

    do you recall how the lawsuits went, by any chance?

  288. #288 Owlmirror
    December 3, 2007

    I wonder if it might have been possible to have argued the kid around, using the framework of the bible. One of the things about the bible is that it has so many explicitly and implicitly contradictory things that you can get almost anything out of it.

    In this case, perhaps pointing out that one of the 10 commandments is to “Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long”. The prohibition against eating blood is lesser, and ought to have been trumped by one of the commandments. After all, his parents did want him to have the transfusion, so that his days might be long. So he really ought to have obeyed them.

    Another idea is this: Since JWs have this mystical notion that blood is magic (OK, from Deut 12:23, “The blood is the life”), give the kid a brief scientific synopsis of how blood is generated, and how transfusions are taken. Seeing blood as just another tissue might help demystify it in his own mind.

    Also: since transfusions come from people who aren’t killed, then obviously, transfused blood is not “the life”. Or in other words: “We don’t take the magic part of blood, so we don’t put the magic part into you.”

    Shrug. Just thinking out loud a bit. Of course, frustrated doctors might have already thought of some or all of these arguments.

  289. #289 MNObserver
    December 3, 2007

    Ichthyic, in Minnesota, the jury gets to apportion the damages in such a case. The defense would argue that they were only responsible for a temporary injury that the man would eventually recover from, the parents would argue that it was the acts of the defendants that caused the death. It’s ultimately a question the jury has to answer.

    In this case, it did settle prior to trial, so we never got that far along.

  290. #290 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    In this case, it did settle prior to trial, so we never got that far along.

    are you aware of any cases where it did make it past a jury?

    I’m rather getting a bug up my butt about this thing, now that I’ve observed that 38 states have laws protecting the egregiously religious from prosecution.

    I think it might be worthwhile to start collecting some court cases to examine.

    thanks.

  291. #291 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    since transfusions come from people who aren’t killed, then obviously, transfused blood is not “the life”. Or in other words: “We don’t take the magic part of blood, so we don’t put the magic part into you.”

    that sounds like a decent argument to me.

    where’s our resident JW with the random caps fixation?

    oh, Melissa…

    what is the standard JW counter to such an argument?

    is there one?

  292. #292 Owlmirror
    December 4, 2007

    Another thought:

    When religion is used as a strong motivation for a permanent action, like in this instance, it’s all about the psychodrama. And of course, being a teen is all about the drama as well. Dennis Lindberg probably had a bunch of emotional issues going on, including shame for his parents’ weakness, feelings of abandonment and resentment for the way they gave him up to his aunt, and so on.

    And of course, the primary psychodrama is encoded in the name of the group. What’s that Greek word for “witness”? It’s ??????, of course.

    It seems to me that the proper counter to this sort of emotional grandstanding would have been the guilt trip, rather than trying to force the issue.

    “Oh, so you want to abandon your parents at their weakest and most vulnerable point in their lives? They’ll be filled with despair and grief when you die, and feel so much rage towards your aunt that they’ll never want to become Witnesses themselves, and they’ll die forever. But hey, you’ll be set with eternal life, so that won’t matter, right?”

    “Or maybe it will…” (and tie into the fifth commandment issue here)

  293. #293 JAMES N
    December 6, 2007

    Jenbug,

    I’d like to comment on your November 30th post about a young Christian Scientist. It is difficult to respond to such a sad story without knowing more of the facts. The Christian Science parents I know deeply love their children and would never deprive them of proper healthcare. Nothing in church doctrine prevents Christian Scientists from seeking whatever care they feel will be best for their family. I’m grateful that I was raised as a Christian Scientist. As a child I was healed of an asthmatic condition through reliance on Christian Science alone. I know many others who were also healed of physical ailments as children and throughout their adult lives.

  294. #294 John C. Randolph
    August 4, 2008

    As a child I was healed of an asthmatic condition through reliance on Christian Science alone.

    No, you weren’t.

    Your asthma went away on its own, as childhood asthma sometimes does, and you chose to give the credit to your superstitions.

    -jcr

  295. #295 Simon
    March 3, 2009

    Religion kills, but Jesus saves.

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