Pharyngula

Facebook is a Mecca for sin

What an awful story: a young woman is murdered by her own father for online chatting.

A woman was beaten up and shot dead by her father for talking online with a man she met on the website Facebook.
The case was reported on a Saudi Arabian news site as an example of the “strife” the social networking site is causing in the Islamic nation.

I don’t think it’s a web page causing the strife: I think it’s a hateful cockamamie belief system. Don’t blame our openness for your derangement, or our tolerance for your daughter-slaughtering monsters.

A leading Saudi preacher told Al-Arabiya.net that Facebook was a “door to lust” for women and called for it to be blocked to prevent social “strife”.

Everyone is rushing to sign up for a facebook account right now, aren’t you? Go ahead, I’ll be your friend. Just don’t look at my photo section if you’re afraid of that “door to lust”.

Comments

  1. #1 Jer
    March 31, 2008

    I’ll be your friend as long as you don’t spam me with invites to all the drink-sharing apps I know you use, PZ.

  2. #2 alex
    March 31, 2008

    ironically i signed myself up for a “face” “book” only yesterday. i didn’t realise it was such a den of iniquity…

  3. #3 Matt
    March 31, 2008

    Be careful what you wish for, PZ. I’ve just sent you a friend request.

  4. #4 Michelle
    March 31, 2008

    I’m sick of these countries and their retarded sexist laws inspired by religion deviancies!! Why should it be forbidden for a woman to speak with a FUCKING GUY? We’re all humans! We all have the same rights, and that includes being able to speak with each other!

    Bastards. Absolute bastards. I can’t believe they think the dad was right and the daughter was sinful. They think that CHATTING with someone of a different sex is worse than MURDER?!

  5. #5 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    OK, the Minneapolis/St Paul network? You’re in Morriss! Celebrate it!

  6. #6 Unspeakably Violent Jane
    March 31, 2008

    Why is it any “system” religious or digital. Why isn’t just another chick hating dude? Why do we as a community continually use language that absolves men of their behavior?

  7. #7 Dianne
    March 31, 2008

    I feel a certain temptation to sign up for facebook and friend request PZ Myers just so I can brag about “my friend PZ”, but should probably resist, given the number of requests he’s going to get after this.

    Yuck. Saudi Arabia is one of the worst in terms of oppression. They make Iraq under Saddam Hussein look enlightened and liberal. Oh, but they’re are best friends, so there’s no need to get all upset about it.

  8. #8 Tony J
    March 31, 2008

    That’s nothing,she’s lucky to have such a god fearing, pious moral father, it could have been a lot worse, he could have been one of those evil, amoral godless atheists, just think how worse off she would be…er sorry would have been.

  9. #9 forsen
    March 31, 2008

    If anything, the Saudi fathers will link to your photo section, sending their daughters screaming in horror and effectively shutting that pesky “door of lust” forever.

  10. #10 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 31, 2008

    OT sort of

    Here’s another fun religious story about a kid that died because his parent’s decided to pray instead of seek medical help.

  11. #11 Mike P
    March 31, 2008

    #6,

    I understand your outrage, but I think there’s room to individually target this particular man as a misogynistic murderer AND to place it within the context of a belief system that encourages misogynistic murderousness. No one is trying to absolve him of anything. Explanation and absolution are very different things.

  12. #12 Christopher Waldrop
    March 31, 2008

    Unspeakably Violent Jane (I just had to retype that unspeakably brilliant name) asks, “Why do we as a community continually use language that absolves men of their behavior?” And I have to admit it’s a point I’ve never thought of before. On the one hand it makes sense to try and contextualize such sick behavior, to try and find a reason for it. On the other hand, what good does it do to say “that’s just what they believe” or even “that’s just the way they are”? Whatever this guy’s belief system is it doesn’t change the fact that he chose to murder his own daughter.

  13. #13 Mike P
    March 31, 2008

    Actually, let me clarify. No one here is trying to absolve him.

  14. #14 Michelle
    March 31, 2008

    @BigDumbChimp #10: Oh no, not christian scientists again… These are truly a plague of murderers. I pity the children stuck in their fanatic cult.

  15. #15 Rebecca Watson
    March 31, 2008

    It’s stories like this that make me want to hold an International Fuck-In Against Religious Bullshit.

  16. #16 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 31, 2008

    It’s stories like this that make me want to hold an International Fuck-In Against Religious Bullshit.

    *raises hand

  17. #17 PZ Myers
    March 31, 2008

    I called him a “daughter-slaughtering monster”! I don’t think that absolves him in any way, does it?

  18. #18 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 31, 2008

    Why is it any “system” religious or digital. Why isn’t just another chick hating dude? Why do we as a community continually use language that absolves men of their behavior?

    You’d could simplify it to that level if you’d like, but that would be ignoring a large portion of the motive behind it.

  19. #19 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    It’s stories like this that make me want to hold an International Fuck-In Against Religious Bullshit.

    As the anonymous authors of the pamphlet Queers Read This wrote:

    Every time we fuck, we win

  20. #20 Corey Schlueter
    March 31, 2008

    Is this guy going to get the death penalty, then?

  21. #21 Will Von Wizzlepig
    March 31, 2008

    Translation: religion is evil, and won’t survive in the light of day much longer.

    hooray.

    The internet will save us from religion.

    Hurry up, internet.

  22. #22 dr.filbert
    March 31, 2008

    meanwhile, things ain’t much better here. one of the morning shows this weekend aired yet another story about the death of a diabetic teenage girl whose parents would only treat her condition with prayer.

  23. #23 BlueIndependent
    March 31, 2008

    This is what happens when the birth canals of women are signed off to power-hungry men controlling the consciences and intellects of human beings.

    Oddly enough a straight-between-the-eyes quote from Governor Ventura was visible alongside this story snippet. Religioin is a “sham and a crutch” indeed. Unfortunately it’s also a weapon.

  24. #24 coathangrrr
    March 31, 2008

    While I find it absurd of Saudi Arabia to blame Facebook for the murder I find it even more absurd to blame “their” religion. This kind of crap happens all the time in the U.S. The number one killer of women in the united states is a close male relative or lover/spouse ex-lover/spouse. Islam certainly blaes things that we, on this blog, doesn’t, but the U.S. does the same crap every time some nutjob guy takes a gun and shoots up a school. The media and politicians blame it on videogames or violent movies or whatever. Never on the misogyny in our society.

    I mean, if it were really facebook at fault then wouldn’t we see women killing men just as often? Even if it were Islam or Christianity, there are as many female muslims as male muslims, so why don’t we see them offing women who break boundaries? Because it’s the misogyny, not the religion.

  25. #25 Marcus Ranum
    March 31, 2008

    Is this guy going to get the death penalty, then?

    I bet he gets off scot free. It’s not like he named a teddy bear “mohammed” or drew a cartoon or anything – it was just a girl.

  26. #26 Jonathon
    March 31, 2008

    The problem is with the Wahabbi sect of Islam that dominates and controls Saudi Arabia. Even though the Quranic instruction on the veil only applied to Mohammed’s wives, Saudi Muslims (and other Muslims, too) have applied it to all Muslim women. Segregation of the sexes doesn’t have any Quranic basis either, as during the life of Mohammed men and women mixed freely and worshipped together.

    According to the Quran, any murder of any person for any reason is considered to be like murdering the entire human race. Those who carry out the murder of their daughters, wives or mothers cannot hide behind Islam.

    (Full disclosure: I am not a Muslim, but I have engaged in a long-term study of Islam ever since 9/11. Much of what is done “in the name of Islam” is actually contrary to what the Quran teaches. Terrorism and “honor killings” are in fact prohibited by Allah in the Quran.)

  27. #27 Lise
    March 31, 2008

    This kind of crap happens all the time in the U.S. The number one killer of women in the united states is a close male relative or lover/spouse ex-lover/spouse.

    That’s a ridiculous comparison. The difference is that in the U.S., these things are *condemned* by law, and the father would be punished. There are still all kinds of ways that women are marginalized in the U.S., but this is not one of them.

    I can’t even tell you how sick this whole thing makes me… and the worst part is that there’s no accountability, because the Saudis are our best buddies.

  28. #28 Mike P
    March 31, 2008

    #24,

    The difference is that this asshole did it under the guise of religion. The reason that you don’t see too many females participating in these honor killings is that the duty, traditionally, falls to the father or brothers. You’re absolutely right in calling this a case of misogyny, but it’s misogyny bred in large part by religious edicts.

  29. #29 Rebecca Watson
    March 31, 2008

    I mean, if it were really facebook at fault then wouldn’t we see women killing men just as often? Even if it were Islam or Christianity, there are as many female muslims as male muslims, so why don’t we see them offing women who break boundaries? Because it’s the misogyny, not the religion.

    Hi coathangrrr, you may be interested in reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel, in which she makes it incredibly clear how religion (in her case, Islam) is used to justify male dominance and keep women frightened and oppressed.

    I think I’m missing your point in regards to there being as many female muslims as male. We DO see them offing women who break boundaries, like in the case reported above.

  30. #30 Ryan F Stello
    March 31, 2008

    coathan #24 said,

    Because it’s the misogyny, not the religion.

    Compare the number of people in the world who get away with what they do when their justification is ‘misogyny’ with those who get away with what they do when their justification is ‘religion’.

    After you do that, come back if you’re still confused about why people focus on the excuse from religion…

  31. #31 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    A Christian was once trying to persuade me that God must exist because otherwise we could not explain our consciences. There is a ‘voice’ or impulse which tells us that we should not do what we want to do, or should do what we don’t want to do. Since it goes against what we want, it can’t be our will. It must be God’s (very CS Lewis).

    I said, okay. So a young man in Iran finds out his sister has been secretly talking to one of the other boys at school. He is weak — he loves his sister, and wants to ignore it. But his conscience won’t let him. That would be wrong. His sister has violated her honor, and that of her family, and therefore deserves to die. It is not what he wants — but the voice of conscience is telling him that this is what he must do. It is what he knows from his family, his community, his religion, and — above all — his God. So he goes against HIS wishes, and does what is right, instead. He kills her.

    Does his conscience point to the existence of a God inspiring us towards a Good above selfish desires?

    As I recall, he shifted the subject. Whenever they want to talk about the Moral Voice Within us which infallibly points to God, they don’t use this kind of example.

  32. #32 Vadjong
    March 31, 2008

    Cann’t this 8th century camelf**** simply install a parent-lock or a firewall or something ? Oh, wait. I see.

    And this is not some hate mongering extremist. Just your average Allah-loving/fearing Mo. So, who can say: “My Islam is not like that.” ?
    Honour killings happen in the Muslim communities in Western Europe too.

    Maybe I should watch Fitna after all. (Nah, I want to remain civilized, but what can one do ?)

  33. #33 negentropyeater
    March 31, 2008

    Coathangrr,
    “Because it’s the misogyny, not the religion.”

    Is misoginy natural ? Or is the product of education ? Does Islam encourage it or combats it ? Do some religions, or at least the way they are taught make it “morally acceptable”, or even “morally required” ?

  34. #34 Mike P
    March 31, 2008

    #32

    You’re not helping.

  35. #35 vlad
    March 31, 2008

    “It’s stories like this that make me want to hold an International Fuck-In Against Religious Bullshit.”

    I obey without question.

  36. #36 Jim RL
    March 31, 2008

    Those poor women folk just can’t resist the raw sex appeal of facebook users. Their uncontrollable lust leads them to such perversions as online chatting with a member of the opposite sex. The internet would be completely free of lust and sex if we could just get rid of facebook.

  37. #37 c-serpent
    March 31, 2008

    #24,

    Because it’s the misogyny, not the religion.

    a comment and a question:

    The comment: I think others here have amply demonstrated that it is BOTH misogyny and the religion because that particular religion is misogynistic.

    The question: do you have data to back up the claim that the number 1 killer of women in the US is men? I don’t know the answer but I’m curious if this was an off-the-cuff remark or a substantive claim. I would have thought the number one cause would have been heart disease, breast cancer, or car accidents rather than homicide, given the rarity of homicides.

  38. #38 vlad
    March 31, 2008

    “Because it’s the misogyny, not the religion.” Religion is a construct of humans so if the religion is misogynistic the founders or current rulers are misogynistic. Can it be argued that Islam was hijacked by misogynistic extremists and twisted out of character with it’s origins. Absolute and unquestioning obedience of your leaders makes this misdirection not only easy but almost a certainty.

  39. #39 craig
    March 31, 2008

    Facebook is dangerous. The game Prolific on Facebook has ruined my life.

  40. #40 Quidam
    March 31, 2008

    One anthem of the latter days of the cold war was Sting’s ‘Russians’

    There is no historical precedent
    To put words in the mouth of the President
    There’s no such thing as a winnable war

    It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore
    Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
    I don’t subscribe to this point of view
    Believe me when I say to you
    I hope the Russians love their children too

    We share the same biology
    Regardless of ideology
    What might save us, me and you
    Is if the Russians love their children too

    Unfortunately this only works with atheists. If you really believe in afterlife rewards, then killing your children along with everyone else is an expression of love.

    God help us, because His believers won’t

    Anyone…
    Anyone…
    Anyone…

  41. #41 Richard Eis
    March 31, 2008

    I once estimated that about 50% of human misery was caused by humans. Now i have it around 90%. Do you think maybe thats too low though?

  42. #42 raven
    March 31, 2008

    Re #10 Faith Murderers:

    The Worthingtons are members of the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City, that has a history of shunning medical care in favor of faith healing.

    A decade ago the church received national attention after KATU reported that the state medical examiner believed approximately 20 children whose parents belonged to the church, had died from untreated illnesses that were curable.

    A decade ago the state thought 20 kids had died of medical neglect. By now it must be another 10 or 20.

    They all need Darwin awards for being stupid.

    1. Either god is mad at them and killing their kids right and left and they should go see doctors instead or…

    2. Faith healing doesn’t work.

  43. #43 craig
    March 31, 2008

    “Religion is a construct of humans so if the religion is misogynistic the founders or current rulers are misogynistic. Can it be argued that Islam was hijacked by misogynistic extremists and twisted out of character with it’s origins.”

    Religion being hijacked by misogynists is like a tractor trailer being hijacked by a a pot-bellied guy in a stained wife-beater and a greasy yellow “Cat” baseball cap.

  44. #44 Mike P
    March 31, 2008

    #38

    I think absolutely you can, but then it becomes a self-perpetuating form of misogyny. The religion was indeed hijacked a while ago by a deeply conservative sect, of which misogyny played a strong role. Then as people grow up with this belief system, it’s much harder to blame “pure” misogyny or “pure” religious influence. They’re culturally blended. There’s no way of telling whether someone would have been a misogynist no matter what or if they became misogynistic as a result of the religion.

  45. #45 Frederik Rosenkjær
    March 31, 2008

    Is this guy going to get the death penalty, then?

    The closest we’ll get is probably issuing an atheist fatwa….which holds the promise of severely rude treatment, outspoken dislike and wall-to-wall frowning if he shows up on our doorstep. Sigh.

    I’m reminded of the term “Honor-garbage”, coined by the Karate Kid.

  46. #46 Frederik Rosenkjær
    March 31, 2008

    Is this guy going to get the death penalty, then?

    The closest we’ll get is probably issuing an atheist fatwa….which holds the promise of severely rude treatment, outspoken dislike and wall-to-wall frowning if he shows up on our doorstep. Sigh.

    I’m reminded of the term “Honor-garbage”, coined by the Karate Kid.

  47. #47 coathangrrr
    March 31, 2008

    The question: do you have data to back up the claim that the number 1 killer of women in the US is men?

    Just to clarify I mean killed by other people, not compared to car wrecks or the like.

    http://www.vpc.org/studies/dv4cont.htm

  48. #48 Robster, FCD
    March 31, 2008

    Michelle,

    Why should it be forbidden for a woman to speak with a FUCKING GUY?

    Because it distracts the guy from his fucking.

    ———

    PZ, you are going to have a busy day with all the friend requests.

  49. #49 raven
    March 31, 2008

    My solution to the Moslem medieval woman problem:

    Open borders. Right to choose. Let the women who want out, run to the west or east for that matter where they are considered full human beings.

    Islam would collapse in a generation due to population replacement failure but a lot of cute boys would get a lot of attention in the meantime.

    Fantasy I know. It would work if only we could figure out how to put the bell on the cat.

  50. #50 vlad
    March 31, 2008

    “Religion being hijacked by misogynists is like a tractor trailer being hijacked by a a pot-bellied guy in a stained wife-beater and a greasy yellow “Cat” baseball cap.” Any system that requires blind obedience is way too tempting for the power hungry to pass up. The whole concept may (big if) have been noble at the start but the system begs for corruption and power hunger.

    #44 I don’t think anyone is born a misogynist or any kind of bigot. A society which does not have a misogynistic feel to it will not embrace Islam, not the fundy version of it.

  51. #51 bill
    March 31, 2008

    C-serpent:

    You make a good point. Of course the number one killer of women is not men. That is, well, silly. Is that kind of silliness allowed on a blog dedicated to “factual” truth? Seems to me it is inconsistent with the spirit of the blog. Wait, I said spirit. Sorry. Not allowed either.

    All men are morons because I say so. That’s the end of it. Period. Ah, dogma. It is everywhere. Like oxygen, just fills up space and makes life worth living. Isn’t it wonderful? After all, what would we do without it? Wait, we could invent something called science (truth by verification) and play pretend we have no dogma, thereby making religion the ultimate bogey man and voila, immunity from all attacks on dogma… Perfection. I’m gonna try that. Oh wait, the boys of the enlightenment already did, and it worked. To the future!

  52. #52 Tulse
    March 31, 2008

    Murder is nowhere near the number one cause of death among women, much less murder by males. CDC data from 2004 shows a death rate via homicide in women at 2.5 per 100,000, out of an overall death rate of 815.4 per 100,000. By contrast, suicide is 4.6, unintentional injuries (“accidents”) is 26.8, and cardiovascular diseases are 304.9. Murder, while terrible, is just a tiny fraction of female deaths.

  53. #53 Randy Edwards
    March 31, 2008

    Time to clog up PZ’s friend list. For great strife!

  54. #54 Ryan F Stello
    March 31, 2008

    coathangrrr (#46) mused,

    Just to clarify I mean killed by other people, not compared to car wrecks or the like.

    Well, if you’re going to be that tightly selective…

    I have a question, too: If I were to find a study that shows the number 1 killer of men by other humans was men, would you still call the phenomenon misogyny?

  55. #55 SteveM
    March 31, 2008

    The question: do you have data to back up the claim that the number 1 killer of women in the US is men?

    Just to clarify I mean killed by other people, not compared to car wrecks or the like.

    Thing is, I expect that the #1 killer of anybody/group is men. So unless you narrow that classification somewhat, I don’t think it means very much.

    That is, this is a MUCH more meaningful statistic:

    Compared to a man, a woman is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger.

  56. #56 Tulse
    March 31, 2008

    I find it completely unsurprising that more women are killed by men than by women, since men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of homicide — more men are killed by men than by women. That women are killed disproportionally by men doesn’t say anything about misogyny, but about the generally violent nature of males. (That is not to say that misogyny is not real, merely that these data don’t provide any evidence for it.)

  57. #57 vlad
    March 31, 2008

    “Wait, we could invent something called science (truth by verification) and play pretend we have no dogma, thereby making religion the ultimate bogey man and voila, immunity from all attacks on dogma… Perfection.” As opposed to a faith that is millennium old based on a book that as a minimum was creatively edited by man multiple time, written by god is still very much up for debate. Then add in mandatory unquestioning obedience and fear mongering, but science is the bastard? You can read that coathangrrr’s assertions are being questioned and refuted. Doing the same with a priest and the bible is a hell worth trespass and will get you heretic status immediately.

  58. #58 Keith
    March 31, 2008

    Face Book doesn’t believe my last name is Kisser and so won’t let me sign up. Den of sin, my ass!

  59. #59 PZ Myers
    March 31, 2008

    Yikes. That facebook link has been sitting on my sidebar forever, so I didn’t think mentioning it in the post would have this effect — I’ve added a few hundred new facebook friends today.

    Wait until your fathers find out who you’ve been talking to!

  60. #60 bill
    March 31, 2008

    Vlad:

    Fair enough, but who told you that the search for God demands unquestioned obedience? You mean like the obedience demanded by the physics teacher in order that his student understands physics…? Because, yes, that is required for any field, anytime. But like a scientist, most searchers for God obey their conscience in the end… that is the very definition of faith after all. Check out Dostoevsky (as I bet you already have). Top notch on freedom, is he. Freedom is the center of his system for understanding the world. Brilliant.

  61. #61 Phil Bull
    March 31, 2008

    Just a warning if you’re not familiar with the Daily Mail: they’re a touch xenophobic, so it’s unlikely to be an unbiased account that you’re getting…

    See MailWatch to get some idea of what they get up to.

  62. #62 bigjohn756
    March 31, 2008

    PZ, I promise that I won’t look at your photos because you are so cute that I’m sure I would instantly descend into uncontrollable lust.

  63. #63 vlad
    March 31, 2008

    “Fair enough, but who told you that the search for God demands unquestioned obedience?” You said religion not god. Had you have attacked painting the belief in a supreme being I would not have made the comment.

    “hereby making religion the ultimate bogey man and voila, immunity from all attacks on dogma” While atheists may look oddly on those who believe in a higher power (even at agnostics) until one demands that they believe as you do (religion) I don’t see any hostility. Now when one demand that they bend to the will of your god (your will given credence through religion) the shit hits the fan and rightfully so.

  64. #64 vlad
    March 31, 2008

    “You mean like the obedience demanded by the physics teacher in order that his student understands physics…?” Are you saying that gravity or any observed occurance can some how be tied into obedience? Now I’m just curious, how so?

  65. #65 Seamyst
    March 31, 2008

    In regards to the International Fuck-In Against Religious Bullshit – let’s not forget to hand out free condoms to all the participants!

    I am totally on that.

  66. #66 bill
    March 31, 2008

    vlad:

    but when an education system demands that certain dogma be taught (evolution or in a catholic school, the immaculate conception) isn’t it making you “bend to your will?” (as you say) In fact, isn’t that whole point of our pluralistic society, getting the most number of people to see it as you do, thereby bending them to your will? Just because it’s not violent isn’t it still coercive in a sense? That is politics… and science is hardly free from the practice of making people bend. Yes, “religion” if that’s what you want to call it has done some historically violent bending of will, but how is that different from not allowing creationism to be taught in public schools? Doesn’t that bend wills?

  67. #67 coathangrrr
    March 31, 2008

    I have a question, too: If I were to find a study that shows the number 1 killer of men by other humans was men, would you still call the phenomenon misogyny?

    Do you know what misogyny means?

    Thing is, I expect that the #1 killer of anybody/group is men. So unless you narrow that classification somewhat, I don’t think it means very much.

    The point is not just that they are killed by men, but that they are killed by men close to them. But I’d say that the near monopoly on violence that men have in our society certainly plays a part in continuing a system that craps on women. My point was mainly that we have this exact same problem, men killing daughters and wives and girlfriends, and we have a different religion. I agree with the above statement about religions being hijacked by fat guys with trucker hats, er, or something like that. Every religion out there, with the possible exception of Wicca, perpetuates the oppression of women in its “real” form.

  68. #68 Vadjong
    March 31, 2008

    #34 : Here is someone who isn’t helping, either :

    http://patcondell.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=323191

  69. #69 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    In regards to the International Fuck-In Against Religious Bullshit – let’s not forget to hand out free condoms to all the participants!

    Don’t forget the lube!!

  70. #70 Coriolis
    March 31, 2008

    Bill, while you may be correct about the way in which certain physics teachers may teach physics, at the end of the day, if you’re willing to bother, you can always go out and do every experiment in physics on your own, there is no need to bend any will. You’re going to have some trouble replicating some of the modern experiments but almost all the basic stuff is something anyone can check for themselves.

    Another more philosophical point is that at the end of the process of studying physics you are expected to know as much as your teacher. That’s rarely expected to be the case for religious leaders, i.e. no expects you to study the bible and be a greater person then jesus christ.

  71. #71 cory
    March 31, 2008

    i admit to knowing ZIPOLA about “Facebook,” “Friendster,” “Buttpamphlet” or any other social networking site, but the very existence of a link called “Poke him” is somewhat scandalous!

  72. #72 skyotter
    March 31, 2008

    In fact, isn’t that whole point of our pluralistic society, getting the most number of people to see it as you do, thereby bending them to your will?

    nope. changing someone’s opinion with evidence or logic is hardly “bending them”

    and here’s a great example — i’ve just made an observation that counters your point. you are free to decide for yourself whether my observation is accurate. no “bending” required

    cheers

  73. #73 vlad
    March 31, 2008

    “isn’t it making you “bend to your will?” (as you say) In fact, isn’t that whole point of our pluralistic society, getting the most number of people to see it as you do, thereby bending them to your will?” That depends. Are you showing me some concrete evidence and then asking me to make an interpretation? Then see if I agree with your interpretation of said findings? Then no. If the ID group was all for teaching all of the various origin concepts from the Greek to Native American. Then pointing out that evolution is the only one that has evidence that can be observed (fossil records that show gradual changes) I could understand that, still not legitimate in my mind.

  74. #74 Emily
    March 31, 2008

    Well, I befriended you on facebook before seeing this sad article.

    Loving the man-boob action, by the way.

    Haaawwwwttt

  75. #75 Onan the Barbarian
    March 31, 2008

    #15

    It’s stories like this that make me want to hold an International Fuck-In Against Religious Bullshit.

    I’d be happy to lend a hand.

  76. #76 bill
    March 31, 2008

    Vlad and Coriolis:

    Wait, wait. The way you give way to the idea that “concrete evidence” is solely the purview of science speaks to your predilections. Isn’t the monk who teaches a doctrine (let’s say the idea that truth is revealed) in such a way that people choose to follow doing something just as valid as a physics teacher who teaches gravity in a way that get people to follow. Why does our education system preclude the teaching of asceticism, let’s say, in favor of “concrete evidence”? Because the premise (facts are found through the scientific method) is believed by the plurality. Fine, but no different than the Catholic Church “forcing” catechism on students all across Latin America. Each “church” is protecting what it believes to be True. Science, the church of rationalism, cannot claim to be outside this. It isn’t. We protect what we believe in, and that is good. But scientist believe in their method the same way monks believe in theirs. I believe.

  77. #77 Ryan F Stello
    March 31, 2008

    coathan (#66) charged,

    Do you know what misogyny means?

    More to the point, do you?

    You are, after all, using statistical facts to argue a conclusion that does not come from those facts (and yes, that does include the statistical fact of spousal distribution of violence).

    Your hostility to the questions that people raise about how you drew your conclusions is entirely mis-directed. Personally, I think there is a strong undercurrent of misogynistic attitudes in our society, but I don’t think they are corroborated with a statistic of what sex kills women the most.

    What I think would be more useful is a statistic of what people report as the motivation to violence, which brings us back to your original (inane) comment.

  78. #78 Robster, FCD
    March 31, 2008

    Bill, the scientist has evidence, while the monk has faith (which can only exist in the lack of evidence).

  79. #79 TLP
    March 31, 2008

    Romanian Atheists are anxiously waiting for Fitna 2.0
    This piece of news is sure to be included!

  80. #80 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Wait, we could invent something called science (truth by verification)

    No. Science is the search for falsehood by falsification.

    Go learn what science is, and then come back.

    a physics teacher who teaches gravity in a way that get people to follow.

    But how does he do that? By just telling people that’s how it is?

    No.

    By demonstrating it in front of their eyes.

    We actually did the experiment in school: we repeated the discovery that the distance a falling object covers increases with the square of the time for which it has fallen. We went to the staircase, dropped stuff, and measured.

    Nothing remotely comparable exists in religion. (“Religion” in the widest sense here, including ideologies like communism.)

  81. #81 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Wait, we could invent something called science (truth by verification)

    No. Science is the search for falsehood by falsification.

    Go learn what science is, and then come back.

    a physics teacher who teaches gravity in a way that get people to follow.

    But how does he do that? By just telling people that’s how it is?

    No.

    By demonstrating it in front of their eyes.

    We actually did the experiment in school: we repeated the discovery that the distance a falling object covers increases with the square of the time for which it has fallen. We went to the staircase, dropped stuff, and measured.

    Nothing remotely comparable exists in religion. (“Religion” in the widest sense here, including ideologies like communism.)

  82. #82 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    bill #75 wrote:

    Why does our education system preclude the teaching of asceticism, let’s say, in favor of “concrete evidence”? Because the premise (facts are found through the scientific method) is believed by the plurality.

    No, the difference between the reliability of conclusions arrived at through the scientific method and conclusions arrived at through ‘asceticism’ (or meditation or revelation) is not just a matter of which one happens to have the power to force their “truth” on a culture. It has to do with how open the methods are, how level the playing field is, and whether they can be checked and changed given new evidence.

    Monks can sit and “discover” all sorts of truths about spiritual realms which conflict with other “truths” discovered the same way. Which monk you believe is going to be arbitrary, a matter of personal taste or perhaps how you have been raised. You need to trust and believe. Trust the monk. Trust yourself. Trust the revelation. It strives after affirming the subjective, and seeking certainties.

    Science doesn’t want you to trust yourself, or anyone, just as a matter of principle. It starts off with the assumption that the universe doesn’t play favorites, and that our biases can lead us astray. The methods strive towards maintaining objectivity, and keeping the possibility of error and change open. Even conclusions arrived at through the scientific method can still be overthrown by good evidence that a monk got it right through an ascetic vision.

    Frankly, I don’t think this relativistic, postmodern approach will work for Creationism. It is too easy to affirm all truths equally, and none in particular. That, or descend into the sort of fascism you seem to be concerned about.

    “From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” (Mussolini)

  83. #83 Coriolis
    March 31, 2008

    Bill, science is not actually about finding “facts”, nor is it about finding Truth with a capital T, although I’ll admit that especially we physicists sometimes get carried away hehe. One, among many difference between science and religion is that all scientific “truths”, or theories as they are usually called are either expected to be changed or found incomplete eventually. Newton’s theories of motion and gravity were found to be just a special case of general relativity which was found by Einstein, people are now looking for something to connect general relativity and quantum mechanics, etc. etc.

    Scientists are researchers, while they do have to learn all the previous theories (the “dogma” if you want to call it that), the actual goal is always to improve, change, or completely discredit previous theories, not to reinforce them. The equivalent would be if every priest or imam was interested in writing a better bible or better quran. That’s not exactly what they are trying to do are they?

    Of course teachers, especially at a high school level may not be getting that point across to their students but that is what science is about. One reason I would be really pissed off at creationism if I was a biologist would be the degree to which any type of tinkering or legitimate questioning of something related to evolution can (and often is) be twisted to “be in support of creationism”. Having to mind what you’re saying as a scientist or having the annoyance of some idiot completely twisting your words is probably what leads to the (I think fully justified) uncompromising attitude of biologists towards creationist crap.

  84. #84 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 31, 2008

    “From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” (Mussolini)

    Interesting. But it doesn’t really surprise he said that (apparently) about himself.

    Wer Jude ist, bestimme ich.
    “I’m the one who gets to decide who’s a Jew.”
    — Hermann Göring.

    Scientists are researchers, while they do have to learn all the previous theories (the “dogma” if you want to call it that), the actual goal is always to improve, change, or completely discredit previous theories, not to reinforce them.

    A good example is what molecular biologists actually call the Central Dogma: “DNA makes RNA makes protein” — DNA serves as the template for the production of RNA, and RNA serves as the template for the production of protein, so that “information flows” from DNA to RNA to protein but never in the other direction; also, DNA can be replicated (made on a DNA template), but RNA and protein can’t be. It’s wrong. There is an enzyme called reverse transcriptase that makes DNA from an RNA template — it’s very common, all retroviruses and retrotransposons use it, hence their names –, then there’s RNA replication (RNA made on an RNA template) in plants and lots of viruses, and even a self-replicating protein has been discovered. It wasn’t a dogma, it was a hypothesis, and the finding that it is (in some cases) wrong led to greater understanding of why it is right in so many cases.

    The equivalent would be if every priest or imam was interested in writing a better bible or better quran.

    Exactly.

  85. #85 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 31, 2008

    “From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” (Mussolini)

    Interesting. But it doesn’t really surprise he said that (apparently) about himself.

    Wer Jude ist, bestimme ich.
    “I’m the one who gets to decide who’s a Jew.”
    — Hermann Göring.

    Scientists are researchers, while they do have to learn all the previous theories (the “dogma” if you want to call it that), the actual goal is always to improve, change, or completely discredit previous theories, not to reinforce them.

    A good example is what molecular biologists actually call the Central Dogma: “DNA makes RNA makes protein” — DNA serves as the template for the production of RNA, and RNA serves as the template for the production of protein, so that “information flows” from DNA to RNA to protein but never in the other direction; also, DNA can be replicated (made on a DNA template), but RNA and protein can’t be. It’s wrong. There is an enzyme called reverse transcriptase that makes DNA from an RNA template — it’s very common, all retroviruses and retrotransposons use it, hence their names –, then there’s RNA replication (RNA made on an RNA template) in plants and lots of viruses, and even a self-replicating protein has been discovered. It wasn’t a dogma, it was a hypothesis, and the finding that it is (in some cases) wrong led to greater understanding of why it is right in so many cases.

    The equivalent would be if every priest or imam was interested in writing a better bible or better quran.

    Exactly.

  86. #86 bill
    March 31, 2008

    David:

    Okay, but you’ve just told me what science is, why do I have to go and come back? There are so many mountains to climb that I wonder if your system is really as accessible as you say it is. I mean in historical terms, it played no part for the most part of, well, forever. But now I guess we moderns have access to the truth, or as you say, falsehoods through falsification. Which begs another question: If all things are just waiting to be falsified, doesn’t that mean nothing is true in and of itself? Which is cool with me, but it does tend to be the most new age of all new ageisms around… total relativity. All things equally false… including the very foundations of science (or does the scientific method escape this, miraculously?). Which again, I get. But you just wouldn’t know how fragile all of this is by the way people talk on this blog. They seem so sure of themselves, wouldn’t you agree? Idiot this, idiot that, stupidity this, stupidity that… weird from so many folks just waiting to declaim the very truths (little t,mind you) on which they so heroically stand. Shouldn’t all of these falsifiers be a little, well, less sure of themselves?

  87. #87 Vitis01
    March 31, 2008

    Bill:

    I can’t decide whether you are being obtuse or pedantic.

  88. #88 bill
    March 31, 2008

    to 84…

    Probably pedantic… sorry. But I do mean what I say. Why so much assurance from a community of folks always, as David says, out to falsify the falsehood? I mean that’s a lot of sand on which to build such a loud boisterous house. It makes me think that you guys are, in fact, pretty sure about something… like your METHODS. You believe in your method beyond all else, and that belief is, well, a belief. Not unlike the monks. Unverifiable in and of itself. I mean, you don’t believe you can verify the scientific method do you? You can only say it works for you… again like the monk who practices asceticism. Come on, I know you can see this. Again, I say verify the method, not trust it, but VERIFY IT. It would take another method to do this, and that’s why so many scientists are out to “test” religious practice.. they know they won’t stand up to their tests. And they don’t, but that “proves” nothing. But I’ve got to go. It’s been a pleasure. Corialis is intersting, at least to me. DM, not so much. Peace.

  89. #89 CalGeorge
    March 31, 2008

    A leading Saudi preacher told Al-Arabiya.net that Facebook was a “door to lust” for women…”.

    And the Islamic religion is a door to murder and mayhem.

    Fuckers. Lousy human beings will always find the excuses they need to do the awful things they feel like doing. Islam provides all the excuses anyone with a bent disposition needs.

    Thank you, Muhammad. Fuck you very much.

  90. #90 zer0
    March 31, 2008

    Your Facebook gallery gets me hot PZ. Totally NSFW.

  91. #91 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    Isaac Asimov once wrote an essay called “The Relativity of Wrong.” He pointed out that the people who once thought the earth was flat were wrong; the people later on who thought the earth was round were also wrong — it is slightly flattened at the poles. But, he concluded, if you then think that means that both groups were equally wrong — then you are more wrong than either.

    The religious are so in love with Certainty, and being Certain, that they can’t seem to wrap their minds around the idea of gradual improvement, of degrees and variations of likelihood. No, it’s all or nothing.

    Stop thinking in black and white.

  92. #92 Chris
    March 31, 2008

    My point was mainly that we have this exact same problem, men killing daughters and wives and girlfriends, and we have a different religion.

    It’s not *that* different… I suppose there may be some Buddhists or Jains or atheists who kill their daughters and wives and girlfriends, too, but I would be very shocked if it was anything like proportional to the rate in the Abrahamic religions, and especially the more authoritarian sects.

    The tree may have three branches, but the poison’s in the root.

    But anyway, this looks like a chicken and egg problem. Is there a lot of misogyny because of misogynistic ideologies, or are there misogynistic ideologies because (some) people are predisposed to misogyny anyway?

    How do you think societies get into the patterns that they’re in? Religions may be handed down from Mt. Sinai, literally, but if people aren’t willing to accept them then they fade into obscurity. An awful lot of non-misogynistic religions have faded into obscurity while some of the worst offenders around skyrocketed to the top of the popularity charts. What does this say about human beings and our relative susceptibility to different ideologies?

  93. #93 Ryan F Stello
    March 31, 2008

    Bill (#85) intuited,

    Again, I say verify the method, not trust it, but VERIFY IT.

    I believe that the method has been verified in a number of different ways, making it trustworthy, and by extension, far removed from religious method

    In what way can a monk’s ‘method’ be verified?

  94. #94 RamblinDude
    March 31, 2008

    I mean that’s a lot of sand on which to build such a loud boisterous house.

    Dude, the computer you’re typing on is not built out of sand.

    (Hmmm…bad choice, nevermind.)

  95. #95 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    Ryan F Stello #90 wrote:

    I believe that the method has been verified in a number of different ways, making it trustworthy, and by extension, far removed from religious method.

    I think Bill wants us to verify the process of verification itself. I mean, the successful predictions of science have all been successful in the material, natural world we all can see, and we’re just assuming that the material, natural world we all see exists and is the most IMPORTANT and ONLY world. But how do we justify this? How do we justify justification? And how do we justify the justification of justification? We can’t be sure of anything, can we?

    In other words, he’s wanking around playing some form of TAG.

  96. #96 Ryan F Stello
    March 31, 2008

    he’s wanking around playing some form of TAG.

    Exactly. The insincerity of his question betrays his ultimate goal: Treat all things with same level of certainty and you can then claim that all things are possible or probable.

    Never mind any nuance of justification or reliability, since nobody can know anything with 100% confidence, then you’re expected to know something with 0% confidence.

  97. #97 Julie Stahlhut
    March 31, 2008

    I don’t understand why lust pisses off members of so many different religions. What the hell is so dreadful about lust, anyway? It’s how we all got here.

  98. #98 Coriolis
    March 31, 2008

    Well, I think technically Bill is right, we can’t be sure of anything, etc. It’s all castles in the sky and so on and so forth. But to quote the most arrogant of them all, our dear friend, Dick Cheney “So?”. At some point philosophy has to take a backseat to reality and that’s when you point out that as a consequence of understanding science you can fly with an airplane, or feed people, or cure (alot of) diseases, and we still haven’t had anybody do a damn thing physically because of understanding any religious tenet. And for that matter insofar as we have statistics there doesn’t seem to be any “mental” benefit either (i.e. reduced crime and violence in religious countries.. if anything it’s the opposite).

    And as for why people have no patience, I’m guessing it’s like if somebody went up to me and said superconductivity is all wrong, when he doesn’t understand basic newtonian mechanics and we’ve got a piece of levitating metal over a superconductor in front of us. I don’t think I’d have the patience to explain for the 100th time why superconductivity infact works. Thankfully it seems like the church hasn’t had much of a problem with physics since the whole bit about the earth orbiting the sun.

  99. #99 mothra
    March 31, 2008

    Bill, a book you NEED to read is: The Philosophy of Science- A very short introduction by Saundra Okuta. Every one of your many misconceptions is answered therein. David has done a masterful job in covering the important ones.

    Also, buried within your posts seems to be a protest that science is not accessible. Sorry, reality does not bend to anyones’ wishes and real science takes real cerebral work, meticulous data collection, ruthless second guessing when asking ‘how could I be wrong?’ Also, an open-mindedness to go where the evidence leads rather than with what one wishes were true. Incidentally, your monk example might be a ‘revealed truth’ to the monk, but it is an internal experience. All of science is external experience- anyone (with the funding, equipment, and prerequisite intellectual capacity) is freely able to test any scientific conclusion. Your computer (desktop/laptop) works because of principles of quantum mechanics, your GPS employs relativistic physics to function. As for evolution- you (and I) share most of a genome with a chimp and a fraction less with a mouse. But the gene that controls density and arrangement of body hair in chimps, us, mice, and hedgehogs, we share with a fruit fly. Yet hirsute plants do not share this gene. No ID template, but great evidence for evolution from a shared ancestors- another good book here is Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins. This book is as accessible as evolutionary theory gets.

    Scientists work very diligently to communicate their work to the general public (when they have time). However, most do not get paid for that effort, only for research. At my university/department, an appointment is generally 80% research, 20% teaching college courses. After getting tenure, this can change to have a community service component in the contract- it is not there (but often expected) before tenure.

  100. #100 pcarini
    March 31, 2008

    vlad @49:

    I don’t think anyone is born a misogynist or any kind of bigot.

    I can assure you that no one is born a misogynist. :) Should someone someone manage to be so unfortunate, well.. all animals learn very quickly where the food comes from.

  101. #101 Copache
    March 31, 2008

    Here’s more shameless plugging. I tackled the group focus on the family after taking cues from PZ. (click my name to go there, it’s pretty awesome I think)

    …and with groups on facebook like mine that PZ is a member of and administrator on, I can see where their concern comes from.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9972923762

    Don’t want your precious little sunflower to learn about atheism? Kill her.

    Quite ironic, really. Lust is worse than killing someone? Well I’ll be damned!

  102. #102 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Yet hirsute plants do not share this gene. No ID template, but great evidence for evolution from a shared ancestors- another good book here is Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins. This book is as accessible as evolutionary theory gets.

    Wonderful book.

    I’m a sociologist–and I make no apologies to you “hard” scientists! I haven’t studied biology since high school, although I did take biochemistry as an undergrad (started as a ChemE major–changed completely to my second major, Music, 7 classes short of a degree–I HATED engineering, especially thermodynamics).

    Ancestor’s Tale is amazingly accessible–I devoured it over this past winter break. It’s also awe-inspiring.

    Something I appreciate about Dawkins’s writing about evolutionary biology is not only how he makes sense of it, but also the awe he brings to it. Life is magnificent, and we’re lucky to have it…and even luckier to be able to understand it. His best writing on biology moves me both emotionally and intellectually like none of his writing on atheism has done.

  103. #103 Carlie
    March 31, 2008

    Holy cow, PZ, you weren’t kidding! Your mini-feed is a nonillion miles long of friend adds!

  104. #104 John Scanlon, FCD
    March 31, 2008

    Scientists are researchers, while they do have to learn all the previous theories (the “dogma” if you want to call it that), the actual goal is always to improve, change, or completely discredit previous theories, not to reinforce them. The equivalent would be if every priest or imam was interested in writing a better bible or better quran. That’s not exactly what they are trying to do are they?

    OK, who’s going to set up the NewBibleWiki and NewQuranWiki? Nobody but an ignorant fundie would claim the current versions are the best possible texts, so everybody should have a chance to suggest and consider improvements. Some would strive for the clearest possible translations of the oldest sources, some would be constantly reverting to the KJV or whatever, and there’s an unimaginably large range of possible modifications. The site/s could also offer a personalised holy text selected and compiled from available texts based on user profile, questionnaires and a few dice rolls.
    That said, The Ancestor’s Tale is a pretty good first draft, for mine.

  105. #105 pcarini
    March 31, 2008

    I have to say I’m impressed with the thoughtfulness and patience of your replies to Mr. bill here. It’s a pattern I’ve seen several times in the short while I’ve been following this blog: if a poster appears to be sincere in his questions he is dealt with respectfully, even when it’s obvious he won’t bother to read the replies.

    And to think that this is the unruly lot who’s supposed to be hurting the cause…

    My own response to a question bill had, even though he’s probably not reading anymore:

    Why so much assurance from a community of folks always, as David says, out to falsify the falsehood?

    Because there are some damned things that refuse to be falsified, not matter how hard we try.

  106. #106 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    I have to say I’m impressed with the thoughtfulness and patience of your replies to Mr. bill here. It’s a pattern I’ve seen several times in the short while I’ve been following this blog: if a poster appears to be sincere in his questions he is dealt with respectfully, even when it’s obvious he won’t bother to read the replies.

    not to be trite, but thanks much for noticing. It rarely gets stated explicitly that honest questions almost always get honest answers round these parts.

  107. #107 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    not to be trite, but thanks much for noticing. It rarely gets stated explicitly that honest questions almost always get honest answers round these parts.

    Remember, “You’re a fucking nitwit” is also an honest response.

    Every question gets an honest response. Respectful questions get respectful responses that actually deal with the content of the questions….even when, as has been shown above, the interlocutor isn’t interested in the responses but is instead trying to obfuscate and set up false equivalencies.

    Accusatory nonsense, repetition of the same ol’ nonsense, and really long nasty threads, as well as just silly as ridiculousness, tend to be where the claws and fangs and stingers and whatever get brought out.

  108. #108 coathangrrr
    March 31, 2008

    You are, after all, using statistical facts to argue a conclusion that does not come from those facts (and yes, that does include the statistical fact of spousal distribution of violence).

    I’m using statistical fact to support my contention that women in the U.S. get attacked by their close male associates very often, therefore we can’t simply blame their religion for it, it is a bigger problem than just religion.

    Your hostility to the questions that people raise about how you drew your conclusions is entirely mis-directed. Personally, I think there is a strong undercurrent of misogynistic attitudes in our society, but I don’t think they are corroborated with a statistic of what sex kills women the most.

    You’re right it was mis-directed, I should have explained my point better, which I obviously didn’t do. The simple fact that men perpetuate the majority of violence in a society is an aspect of the oppression of women. The fact that way more men kill women than women kill men is also an aspect of that oppression. Part of the way that the oppression of women is perpetuated is through the use of violence and we, and most cultures, overwhelmingly put that violence in the hands of men.

    The original comment is that we can’t blame “their” religion for this. I stand by that. I don’t think that the fact that many interpretations of are violent makes the religion violent. There is a whole lot more to the misogyny than a religion.

  109. #109 Robert Thille
    March 31, 2008

    Speaking of replies and such, I’d love to have a meta-discussion about moving scienceblogs to a ‘better’ discussion software, like is used by the daily kos or slashdot. Tracking replies here is always such a pain, referencing by number works ok, until some truly moronic post gets deleted and throws off the numbering, etc.

  110. #110 Dave H
    March 31, 2008

    A comment to the continuing discussion on misogyny. Just because men tend to be more aggressive than women (testosterone increases aggression a lot more than estrogen does), and there are good evolutionary explanations for why this is so (biologically, men’s offspring counts are essentially only limited by the number of available mates, so it pays to be aggressive and try and fight your way to a harem), says nothing about the morality of the whole situation. To do so is called the naturalistic fallacy.

    Nature is an indifferent and amoral bitch. But that doesn’t make her disappear in to thin air out of shame.

    As was noted before, we must make sure to differentiate between explanations, and excuses.

  111. #111 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008


    Speaking of replies and such, I’d love to have a meta-discussion about moving scienceblogs to a ‘better’ discussion software, like is used by the daily kos or slashdot. Tracking replies here is always such a pain, referencing by number works ok, until some truly moronic post gets deleted and throws off the numbering, etc.

    agreed, but sciblogs software improves at a glacial pace. took them 2 years to finally incorporate a workable search function.

    don’t expect a rapid response.

  112. #112 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    Coat, your stats aren’t helpful, because they don’t show the abuse and murder stats by religion, but it is known that a lot more religious people go to prison…

    and as for men killing women being a sign of oppression… are you seriously suggesting that women should try to even up the statistics?

    Also, generally, murders are committed by people close to the victim. It’s hard to hate a stranger. I bet if you look, friends and family are responsible for the murders of most male victims.

  113. #113 coathangrrr
    April 1, 2008

    Coat, your stats aren’t helpful, because they don’t show the abuse and murder stats by religion, but it is known that a lot more religious people go to prison…

    Which is easily explained by the fact that there is a strong correlation between higher education levels and atheism and a negative relation between higher education levels and prison.

    and as for men killing women being a sign of oppression… are you seriously suggesting that women should try to even up the statistics?

    That was obviously what I was suggesting, wasn’t it?

  114. #114 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    Well, what are you saying, Coat?

    you’re offering us a verbal description of inadequate statistics as proof that things like what was described in the article happen in the US too, and that these things are not related to religion. I’d like to know where that belief came from, and, if it’s true, what you propose we do about it.

    If you don’t know the answer to the latter, that’s fine, so long as you can give me full satisfaction on the former. We can take it from there.

  115. #115 Brian W.
    April 1, 2008

    I’m on MySpace, Facebook and OK Cupid. So far Facebook is the only one that HASN’T gotten me laid.

  116. #116 trouble
    April 1, 2008

    wazza, the DOJ disagrees with you:
    “Males were more likely to be violently victimized by a stranger than a nonstranger, and females were more likely to be victimized by a friend, an acquaintance, or an intimate”
    (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict_c.htm)

    To the people insisting on other reasons women are killed by men here in the US that are NOT because of American culture/American sexism, do you buy the “that’s not my islam” argument? Because it looks pretty similar: Someone arguing for nuances of responsibility inside a larger generalization

    the point about women in the US is, that despite the anger at this awful murderer, and at the way religion is used to justify this murder, here in the us there is a pattern of violence and murder of women that outsiders would likely blame on “American culture” in a similar way.

    Four women die A DAY due to being murdered by their husbands or boyfriends – and we call that “domestic violence” not “american violence. Beyond that, women who suffer from male violence in the US are disproportionately poor, and disproportionately not white, which is sometimes used to take them out of the argument about “american culture” and blame instead the communities they come from. What a cop-out. We may not have religion to blame, but we find something other than the society to blame (not excusing the individual, but that’s not the root cause).

    To the extent we generalize about “Saudi culture” or “islam,” we should be open to people generalizing about “american culture’s” pattern of violence against women as well. I hope people express concern for those women with equal fervor, whether religion is involved or not.

  117. #117 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    Well, whaddya know…

    personally, I’m ashamed of the fact that there are still males out there who think it’s manly to beat your wife. That said, I knit through lectures, all my best friends are female, and I talk about my feelings all the time, so perhaps I’m not the best gauge of masculinity. Or maybe we just need a new measurement of masculinity?

    And yes, this particular killing is the father’s fault, but the fact that the debate afterwards is not “How can our culture or any subgroup thereof let such a thing happen” but “How can we let this whoremongering website corrupt our children to the point where a righteous father must do such a thing” points to the real difference in cultures that needs to be addressed. Not that it happens, but what the reaction is afterwards.

  118. #118 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    April 1, 2008

    There are many interesting numbers in that DOJ report, for instance:

    “The rate of nonfatal intimate violence against females declined by nearly half between 1993 and 2001.”

    This is closely matches the general fall in crime rates shown in the graph.

    I credit education and secularism, but I wonder how much is due to the high incarceration rates prevalent in the US.

    How did we jump to the conclusion that religion in the US has no bearing on male on female violence there? The majority of Americans are religious. There has been a strong historical emphasis on male dominance and control of women in the Bible. It is still to be seen, even in today’s versions. It is there in both the OT and the NT.

    I think most Christian sects have toned down the ‘submit to your husband, regardless’ stance. Still, some of them haven’t (insert no True Christian denial here). I’m not so sure how many are actively condemning and rooting out abuse wherever it appears in their congregations. For me, there’s still the lingering taint of the patriarchy in Christianity.

    Islam as reported in the Western media, seems to be at least a century or two behind in its Enlightenment process.

  119. #119 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    The way I look at it:

    when christianity was first founded, it was a small group of kooks. 400 years later, it was the height of civilization. 1000 years later, it was the height of barbarism. 1500 years after its founding, with the addition of outside ideas, it began to form into a more humanistic faith. 1900 years in, and it’s pretty much watered down and on the defensive.

    Now map this onto Islam. It’s at about the same stage as renaissance christianity – still horribly bigoted and misogynistic, but about to get hit by outside ideas and gradually become just a hobby for people.

    Eh, it’s probably a horribly false analogy. But the parallels are fun to play with.

    And, my canadian friend, I never said nothing about religion not being involved in violence in the US. In my opinion, it’s probably the #1 cause.

  120. #120 MarieB
    April 1, 2008

    To John Scanlon @ #101–

    In case you’re not aware, there is an ongoing project to translate the Bible into Lolspeak. Google LOLCAT BIBLE to get to the site :).

  121. #121 Nick Gotts
    April 1, 2008

    “It’s stories like this that make me want to hold an International Fuck-In Against Religious Bullshit.”

    Maybe we can really get the Earth to move!

  122. #122 Ian Gould
    April 1, 2008

    So because a notorious inaccurate racist far-right British newspaper publishes a report that says that an Arab language website carried a claim by a Saudi cleric that an unnamed man somewhere supposedly killed his daughter, people not only accpet it as fact but spout off ignorant assertions about how they’re absolutely certain thee guy got off scott-free? In a country that per capita is about executing-est country on the planet?

    Tell me again about the ignorant, bigoted, gullible credulous Muslims and how much smarter and cannier we Atheists are.

  123. #123 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    Things like this really do happen, Ian. NZ often gets tangled up with people trying to run away from it, because we accept a lot of refugees.

    The basic discussion is relevant regardless of whether or not this actually happened, though I suspect it did. The religious ranting isn’t that far from something you’d expect from Jerry Foul-will or “Bishop” Tamaki.

  124. #124 Ian Gould
    April 1, 2008

    “Islam would collapse in a generation due to population replacement failure but a lot of cute boys would get a lot of attention in the meantime.

    Fantasy I know. It would work if only we could figure out how to put the bell on the cat.”

    How many Muslim women do you actually know?

  125. #125 Lilly de Lure
    April 1, 2008

    Trouble said:

    To the extent we generalize about “Saudi culture” or “islam,” we should be open to people generalizing about “american culture’s” pattern of violence against women as well. I hope people express concern for those women with equal fervor, whether religion is involved or not.

    Unfortunately Trouble, the domestic violence against women that you describe here is emphatically not simply an American phenomenon. Domestic violence is a problem in Europe as well, in fact you’d be hard pressed to find a society on earth where there is no domestic violence (nowhere has a monopoly on violent scumbags). The difference between the two situations lies in society’s reactions to this problem, not the existence of the problem itself.

    The difference between the situation in America and the situation in Saudi is that a man beating up or killing his daughter or wife is acting illegally in the States in all circumstances except self defence. A guy who acted like this father did in the US is considered guilty of murder and treated like any other murderer. End of. Pathetic excuses about said daughter’s online activities are not considered relevant, let alone exculpatory.

    Yes, I know that in practice it can be horribly difficult for a woman experiencing abuse/rape e.t.c. in the US or indeed in Europe to access the legal services and other supports that she needs and this is definitely something that needs work. However the difference is that at least society in the West recognises that said domestic violence is always wrong and a criminal offence. In this case Saudi society is saying that this murder is, in effect, justified because the victim was talking to a *gasp* man on Facebook.

    Do you not see the difference?

  126. #126 anne
    April 1, 2008

    #107:
    What, exactly, are the evolutionary explanations for men killing their mates and/or offspring? Seems a bit counterproductive to me.

  127. #127 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    Bravo Lilly

    put much better than I could have myself

    it’s nice that, even though we’ve got so much to be proud of, we still worry we haven’t done enough. That’s what keeps us on the upward path.

  128. #128 Ian Gould
    April 1, 2008

    “It’s not *that* different… I suppose there may be some Buddhists or Jains or atheists who kill their daughters and wives and girlfriends, too,”

    Female infanticide was extremely common in buddhist societies until quite recently. The practice still persists in soem poorer countries like Myanmar.

    Honor killings and dowry murders are an epidemic amongst Hindus which is probably as common as any similar practice in the world.

  129. #129 Nick Gotts
    April 1, 2008

    “The basic discussion is relevant regardless of whether or not this actually happened, though I suspect it did.” – wazza

    That’s a line spouted by bigots of all kinds when one of their facts turns out to be a factoid. I’m ashamed to say I assumed when I saw the post that this report was reliable – I didn’t check the link and find it came from a website, citing an anonymous source, via the Daily Mail. Look, Saudi Arabia and its version of Islam are pretty vile – that doesn’t mean we don’t need to exercise proper scepticism about sources.

  130. #130 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    @Ann: it’s probably not directly selected for, but the violent urges bred into us can spill over to where they shouldn’t be

  131. #131 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    Actually Nick, I’ve heard verified reports of the same thing. So though discussing this as real may not be perfectly correct, something like this is still sparking debate about a real world problem. People really do think like this. I’m not saying that this case then has to be true, but that it could very well be true and discussing it as if it is works just as well as discussing a hypothetical situation.

  132. #132 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    *same sort of thing

    sorry

    no verification of this event, though if someone more skilled in the paths of teh interwebs could find us something, that’d be lovely

  133. #133 Chris
    April 1, 2008

    #105:

    I’m using statistical fact to support my contention that women in the U.S. get attacked by their close male associates very often, therefore we can’t simply blame their religion for it, it is a bigger problem than just religion.

    What? The U.S. is one of the most religious nations in the industrialized world. How can you be confident of no causal connection between religion and violence on the basis of the fact that in addition to *that* highly religious, highly violent nation over there, there’s also this nation that’s highly religious and highly violent.

    Now, if some country like Finland has much lower religiousness and still has just as much violence against women, then you’d have a point. But you can’t use the U.S. as a counterexample – it isn’t sufficiently different from Saudi Arabia.

  134. #134 Nick Gotts
    April 1, 2008

    #128 wazza,
    If there are verified reports of the same kind of event, which I am quite prepared to believe there may be, let’s discuss those. Apart from anything else, what if this report does turn out to be false? Score one for Wahabism, minus one for atheism. PZM seems to be on an “anything goes so long as its anti-Islamic” kick.

  135. #135 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    true, but those events were a few months ago…

    can’t we just run with this as a hypothetical – and plausible – situation, discuss as we have, and then if it turns out to be true, suicide bomb a mosque or something?

    Come on, it’ll be fun!

    :P

    Sometimes I think we worry overmuch about whether we might offend people. After all, merely by speaking civilly to an atheist, you’ve already done enough to offend some religious nuts to the point where they want your head on a spike, with two smaller spikes nearby for other relevant bits of your anatomy. After that, it doesn’t really matter what you say, yes?

  136. #136 Damian
    April 1, 2008

    Nick Gotts said:

    PZM seems to be on an “anything goes so long as its anti-Islamic” kick.

    I am puzzled by this accusation. This story has been reported by several sources – the principle one being the “Arab Media and Society” site – and it has lead to a fairly interesting discussion about the roles of religion, misogyny, male dominance and female suppression in general, in all societies, and for variety of reasons.

    PZ posts quite a number of articles about religion. I am quite sure that he will continue to do so, regardless. I fail to see what you will achieve by complaining about it – unless you consider it as a hobby, that is.

  137. #137 Nick Gotts
    April 1, 2008

    #133 Maybe to get PMZ to ask himself whether he wants to associate himself with people like Geert Wilders and the Daily Mail?

    The AMS site (I can’t find the discussion you mentioned, by the way, can you point me to it?) again cites the Al-Arabiya website, but again the principals in the story are not named, nor is the source, and we’re now told it happened “last August”. Before I give credence to a report of a murder, I want a little more detail than that. But then, I tend to think respect for the truth, and a critical attitude to data, should extend beyond science.

  138. #138 Dave H
    April 1, 2008

    #123:

    Killing your mate or children? None. But aggression isn’t exactly very precise. As was noted before, men are also the #1 murderers of men. Dominating your mate so they cannot mate with another male, though heinous and reprehensible morally, makes perfect sense evolutionarily. The whole instinct is pretty bad, but almost inevitably (again, still a heinous crime) it will go over board sometimes, even to point of murder. Furthermore, this instinct can be hijacked, exploited, or nurtured.

  139. #139 Damian
    April 1, 2008

    Maybe to get PMZ to ask himself whether he wants to associate himself with people like Geert Wilders and the Daily Mail?

    I would agree with you that the source of information is a critical component, and I personally value some above others, but I don’t really believe that there are any sources that are highly reliable, anymore. After all, this probably isn’t about the reliability of the source, but the editorial position of the paper itself, and the stories that it chooses to cover. While some are certainly better than others, in this regard, I am critical of all British news organizations for continuing to take an ideological stance when the majority of the country has given up on it, in my experience.

    I can’t find the discussion you mentioned, by the way, can you point me to it?

    Do you mean in this thread? I thought that the discussion that coathangrrr (and others) had started was both relevant and interesting. And that is often the direction that these kind of threads take. Sure, it starts with a story that is posted, but we are free to take the discussion in any direction that we wish to.

    Before I give credence to a report of a murder, I want a little more detail than that. But then, I tend to think respect for the truth, and a critical attitude to data, should extend beyond science.

    You will find no argument with me, here. But then, this is the beauty of open threads where it is possible to point out that the Daily Mail is not a particularly sophisticated newspaper, and that it has a track record of banging the drum about issues that it has largely manufactured in the first place, or at least that it has chosen to focus on a particular issue that doesn’t warrant such a level of coverage. That said, it also doesn’t mean that it is automatically wrong by default, which I realize hasn’t been implied.

    All that I would suggest is that we should share any information about sources, etc, and then attempt to take the discussion in a direction that doesn’t lead to the wholesale condemnation of a particular group. That is something that I am quite passionate about, as it doesn’t require much effort to qualify a statement, making sure that you don’t overgeneralize. Blaming PZ if that happens is hardly rational, though, and it is not his job to find news sources which favor ones own tastes, either.

    It would indeed be unfortunate if people took this as the gospel and that had further implications, but I can’t really see any. Respecting truth means that we should remain skeptical of all claims in the news media, in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t create an interesting discussion, regardless of the news source.

    It is far better to add something constructive to a conversation, than to complain about sources and motives. After all, Just as some people “tend to think respect for the truth, and a critical attitude to data, should extend beyond science”, there are also those who tend to be professional miserable barstewards, who will moan about literally anything at all. ;-)

  140. #140 Nick Gotts
    April 1, 2008

    #136

    I thought you meant a discussion at AMS.

  141. #141 steve8282
    April 1, 2008

    I thought I would never join Face book but this has changed my mind.

    On the extremely small change that I am wrong and the Theist’s are right. I sincerely hope that i have to courage to tell god to bite me on judgment day.

    To me hell would be being trapped for all eternity with a gang of self righteous bible thumpers, does that mean I am going top heaven?

  142. #142 steve8282
    April 1, 2008

    I thought I would never join Face book but this has changed my mind.

    On the extremely small chance that I am wrong and the theist’s are right. I sincerely hope that I have to courage to tell god to bite me on judgment day.

    To me hell would be being trapped for all eternity with a gang of self righteous bible thumpers, does that mean I am going to heaven?

  143. #143 Kelly
    April 1, 2008

    Just want to point out that most of the “honor killing” bs is not Islamic — it is tribal law that locals try to pass off as religious.
    The story, joins hundreds of other “honor killing” horrors. They have always existed — we now hear about them because a. these tribal minded people are immigrating into developed nations and b. we hear news from all over easier than we did 20 years ago.

  144. #144 trouble
    April 1, 2008

    Lilly and Wazza, I think you’re missing the point.

    “at least society in the West recognises that said domestic violence is always wrong and a criminal offence.”

    Conviction rates are low, punishing of the victim is high, reporting is low (because of the abusive nature of our legal system and the social pressures against reporting).
    So I am not comforted by the fact that our laws say one thing when everyday practice says another. like religious laws may say one thing and everyday practice may say another. Patting ourselves on the back for a legal system that is slanted against women, against the poor and against people of color simply because theoretically they can take advantage of it is not enough.

    And Lilly, nowhere did I say it was “simply an american phenomenon.” I was pointing out that violence against women happens here, and before we congratulate ourselves too much we should look at the ways in which our discourse masks it as a problem. I’m also critiquing ranking of cultures and nations against each other as if they are separable and not intertwined. I don’t think these “honor killings” are separate from larger geopolitical and economic pressures, and I don’t think the myriad ways women are killed in the US or europe are so different.

  145. #145 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    Yes, trouble, people really do get raped, and often they don’t get the cops to do anything about it, and we do still have a long way to go…

    but I wouldn’t say that that indicates that women are oppressed. I’d say that that means we need to have another couple of generations with this or more liberal education and law enforcement, and then the cops will have grown up with the idea of equality, too.

    that’s my real problem. You’re not proposing what we do about it, and you’re the one saying we have a problem. Either prove the problem beyond reasonable doubt so everyone has to join in solving it, or provide a solution to the problem, or both.

  146. #146 John Scanlon, FCD
    April 2, 2008

    For those asking the theoretical ‘why?’ question (i.e. given the pattern exists, why does natural selection not stamp it out), the sort of explanation current in evolutionary psychology is that ‘honour’ (or ‘honor’ if you spell that way) is maintained by willingness to massively retaliate against any potential stain on reputation, from whatever source. Also known as chivalry, machismo and various other codes (what’s the Sicilian word?). At the point when the violence is actually committed it isn’t adaptive, but the constant threat is more often effective and therefore need not be carried out (at least not to the extent of murder), providing a certain amount of stability and relative safety for the knight/macho/wifebeater/mafioso and his subjects/family/cellmates/dependents/victims.
    Nations and sky-fairies have been reported to behave in such a way also.

  147. #147 Lilly de Lure
    April 2, 2008

    Trouble said:

    Conviction rates are low, punishing of the victim is high, reporting is low (because of the abusive nature of our legal system and the social pressures against reporting).

    Agreed – I did say we have a way to go and definite work to be done in the West did I not? Attitudes towards rape victims in particular are dreadful in certain quarters and this is something that urgently needs to be addressed. But if you compare the treatment women receive in the US and the West when raped or abused by their partners and compare it with that doled out to Saudi women in a similar position – well I know where I would rather be!

    Just because Western society’s treatment of women is less than perfect and there are still pockets of misogyny out there, it does not follow that it is automatically equivalent to the kind of misogyny endured by women in Saudi Arabia.

  148. #148 Monado, FCD
    April 2, 2008

    I hate to say it, but the “Bible condemns gays” verse of Leviticus is accomapnied by verses calling for exiling anyone who has sex during a woman’s period and killing your children for being disobedient. Anyone calling for old-line severity on homosexuality should be asked if he approves of the latter.

    One of the reasons that some people oppose mandatory notification or parental permission for abortions is that girls have been murdered in the U.S. when their fathers find out. They don’t get the headlines, though.

  149. #149 Lilly de Lure
    April 2, 2008

    Monado, FCD said:

    I hate to say it, but the “Bible condemns gays” verse of Leviticus is accomapnied by verses calling for exiling anyone who has sex during a woman’s period and killing your children for being disobedient. Anyone calling for old-line severity on homosexuality should be asked if he approves of the latter.

    An excellent argument against biblical literalism and a religiously based legal system, the latter of which is, effectively, what Saudi Arabia has, just a different flavour from the example you’ve posted above.

    One of the reasons that some people oppose mandatory notification or parental permission for abortions is that girls have been murdered in the U.S. when their fathers find out. They don’t get the headlines, though.

    But, again, I would love to see said murdering scumbags try to plead in a court of law that said murder was in some way justified because of “family honour” or anything else. They are guilty of murder, no ifs, no buts, no “but she’s only a fallen woman” allowed.

  150. #150 Monado, FCD
    April 2, 2008

    A little light sometimes goes on over people’s heads if you ask them if someone invites theft by appearing prosperous or deserved to be mugged because they were wearing a good suit.

  151. #151 DingoDave
    April 2, 2008

    Jonathon wrote in post #26:
    “According to the Quran, any murder of any person for any reason is considered to be like murdering the entire human race. Those who carry out the murder of their daughters, wives or mothers cannot hide behind Islam.”

    Dear Jonathon,
    Please read the entire verse, and the verses following it before you quote this passage as a defense of the Koran and Islam.

    Here is the quote in context.

    Koran chapter 5:32 For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our messengers came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land.

    5:33 The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be exiled from the land; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.

    5:34 Except those who repent before you have them in your power; so know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    Please notice that it was to the “children of Israel” that this verse was directed, and not to Muslims themselves. Also note that it says that it is OK to kill people if they have comitted manslaughter, or have been found guilty of “creating mischief in the land”.

    I guess her father considered that she was guilty of “creating mischief in the land”.
    But hey, at least she wasn’t crucified, or exiled, or had her hands and feet chopped off on opposite sides.
    Thank Allah for small mercies I guess.

    I suggest that you continue your studies of ‘The Noble Quran’

  152. #152 DingoDave
    April 2, 2008

    Monado, FCD wrote in post #145
    “I hate to say it, but the “Bible condemns gays” verse of Leviticus is accomapnied by verses calling for exiling anyone who has sex during a woman’s period…”

    Sorry to nitpick Monado, but according to the Old Testament, the actual penalty for having sex with a woman during her menstrual perid was DEATH.

    The phrase which Christian and Jewish apologists like to (falsly) translate as “exile from the people”, actually should be read as, “cut off from the people”. In the original Hebew, the phrase ‘to cut off from the people’, really means ‘to execute’.

    Why-Oh-Why do religious apologists feel so obliged to intentionally mis-translate passages from their own holy books? (Rhetorical question!)

  153. #153 manu
    April 3, 2008

    Some religions are preventing the free thinking of the people. The result of this is killing of this type and are getting poor. Powerful countries should come forward and make political and finance barriers to them

  154. #154 wazza
    April 3, 2008

    @Manu: Why? We should be helping fund their education instead, and making sure that free-thinking gets a look in…

    but that won’t work in Saudi Arabia, because they have our oil, so they call the shots

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