Pharyngula

You mean it’s all my fault?

And your fault, too. The conservative columnist Melanie Phillips has an explanation for our current economic problems, for drunkenness and drug abuse, for rudeness, for psychopathic killers, and for the wholesale collapse of Western culture. What could possibly be the single root cause of so many catastrophic consequences? Why, atheism, of course.

I see this financial breakdown, moreover, as being not merely a moral crisis but the monetary expression of the broader degradation of our values – the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as ‘rights’ and the loss of self-discipline. And the root cause of that erosion is ‘militant atheism’ which, in junking religion, has destroyed our sense of anything beyond our material selves and the here and now and, through such hyper-individualism, paved the way for the onslaught on bedrock moral values expressed through such things as family breakdown and mass fatherlessness, educational collapse, widespread incivility, unprecedented levels of near psychopathic violent crime, epidemic drunkenness and drug abuse, the repudiation of all authority, the moral inversion of victim culture, the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda — and intimidation and bullying to drive this agenda into public policy.

Phillips is also a denier of evolution, the safety of vaccines, and global climate change, which sort of tells you what her opinion is worth.

Comments

  1. #1 Jeanette
    October 17, 2008

    Before these nuts were blaming gays; I guess it’s our turn now.

  2. #2 Sven DiMilo
    October 17, 2008

    KILL HER!!!!!

    Aaa, did I type that out loud? No, no, what I meant to say was: Rebuke her with a sharply-worded blog post!!!!!

  3. #3 PZ Myers
    October 17, 2008

    I wouldn’t want to be a gay atheist then.

  4. #4 Cappy
    October 17, 2008

    PZ, say you’re sorry.

    I despair of these pundits who want to blame everything on one thing (it’s usually the wrong thing, and really there are usually specific causes to particular problems). What we really need to pin down is the cause of the passing of critical thinking.

  5. #5 Shaden Freud
    October 17, 2008

    Wow, she’s like a one-woman crank magnet.

  6. #6 DCP
    October 17, 2008

    Why then, if I may ask, did the financial crisis originate in the US of A and not in Europe or Japan?

  7. #7 Chiroptera
    October 17, 2008

    And the root cause of that erosion is ‘militant atheism‘ which, in junking religion, has destroyed our sense of anything beyond our material selves and the here and now and, through such hyper-individualism….

    Huh. That sounds like fundamentalist Protestant approved capitalism to me. Am I missing something?

  8. #8 guthrie
    October 17, 2008

    Cappy, I’ll give you a possible causes for the passing of critical thinking- 1) survival and rewards can increasingly come from lack of critical thinking, and as part of this large sections of the populace have ignored critical thinking, and this has been encouraged if not fostered by other sections of the population. After all, to choose an obvious example, where do critical thinking skillls come in a consumerist society where the culture is oriented towards consuming stuff?*

    *Yes yes, I know in your ideal consumerist society everyone would use critical thinking to evaluate what they consume and why. But I don’t see that keeping the economy motoring along.

  9. #9 Nerd of Redhead
    October 17, 2008

    I just love the term “militant atheist”. Usually it seems to mean we don’t just roll over and play dead. But it does conjure up mental pictures of us wearing berets and brandishing an AK-47 while demand that all believers recant their belief in god. Reminds me of the radicals during my college days.

    I guess I’m a militant atheist since I just want to be left alone with my non-belief in fictitious gods.

  10. #10 Glen Davidson
    October 17, 2008

    OMG, 4% of the population is that powerful? And against the Supreme Ruler of the universe, no less?

    Wow, atheism is more powerful than God’s influence. Which speaks highly of religion, does it not?

    If one were to really come to a conclusion based upon the viewpoints of the majority of actors in society on this one factor, it would look as though religion were the cause of all of our problems.

    But apparently not, atheism makes one strong, while religion makes the majority weak. Come to think of it, that was what Nietzsche wrote–if we greatly simplify his thought.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  11. #11 The Backpacker
    October 17, 2008

    Everything she says we have “decended” in to are near universal in Human History.

    “such things as family breakdown and mass fatherlessness, educational collapse, widespread incivility, unprecedented levels of near psychopathic violent crime, epidemic drunkenness and drug abuse, the repudiation of all authority, the moral inversion of victim culture, the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda –and intimidation and bullying to drive this agenda into public policy.”

    Point me to one time when people did not do all of these things and more that we have managed to push out.

  12. #12 Katharine
    October 17, 2008

    SHE says WE’RE destroying truth and objectivity?! Get the craniorectal extractor, we’ve got a pretty big extraction job to do on this bimbo!

  13. #13 Bob L
    October 17, 2008

    While Libertarianism is used by unbelievers to justify self destructive greed Melanie Phillips should look up the words “Prosperty Christianity”. That is if she can be bothered to base her opinions on something besides emotion.

  14. #14 TSC
    October 17, 2008

    No. It’s because the crackers got angry.

  15. #15 Hap
    October 17, 2008

    I’m surprised that this didn’t come with a free Lysol insert – it doesn’t even pass the smell test. Atheists have been unsilent for roughly 10-20 years (?) while the “moral fiber” of this country has been weakening (well, around election time for conservatives, anyway) for a good thirty years, so how exactly does one cause the other? Cause and effect – who needs it?

    I guess blaming the collapse of our country on atheists does distract their average readers from asking questions such as “Where the hell did $8e12 go?”, “Where the $%^* are those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction?” and “If gays are so evil, why do you guys keep getting caught soliciting sex in bathrooms?”, questions for whom the answers would be more problematic. I guess if her readers had any logical reasoning skills, she would have her own street corner and change cup, and frequent flier miles at plasma donation centers.

  16. #16 386sx
    October 17, 2008

    I wouldn’t want to be a gay atheist then.

    Even worse: gay atheist Wiccan.

    Actually, I think most Wiccans are already gay atheists. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong!

  17. #17 *
    October 17, 2008

    If you don’t like the plain wafers can you dip Jesus in a little salsa? Maybe cheese and onion?

  18. #18 The Cheerful Nihilist
    October 17, 2008

    Damn atheists. I thought my epidemic of drunkenness (or epic drunkenness) was caused by my complete lack of self-control and desire to avoid sobriety. Now, thanks to Miz Phillips, I know it’s those militant atheists.

    I wish there were some sort of powerful being that would damn them to some horribly hot place for a long time. (I’m thinking: being on a limited income and Florida and old age.)

  19. #19 Sven DiMilo
    October 17, 2008

    She’s British. I suspect that when she sez “militant atheists” she means “Richard Dawkins.”

  20. #20 scrabcake
    October 17, 2008

    This explains why no one ever cheated on their wife or slept around or drank or brutally killed other people before the enlightenment. That’s why there were never any syphilis epidemics in the early 1600s, and it’s certainly why there were never any pogroms, inquisitions or constant pointless wars throughout Europe in the last 1000 years. Those good Christians of the past certainly didn’t massacre entire indigenous populations with a sadism worthy of the trashiest modern slasher movie, and the sultans of the ottoman empire didn’t have all their relatives imprisoned and then strangled because they were such good Muslims. We were also way too humane back then to execute people in public for petty theft. Things have just gone to hell in a handbasket in the last 100 years. \sarcasm
    Yeah. Things were so much better in the past. If time machines were real and these people went back to the good old days, I’d give them about a day before they got burnt at the stake for heresy.

  21. #21 RideThePig
    October 17, 2008

    PZ, the worst part is that she’s sympathetic towards Sarah Palin, claiming that our criticizism of the mentally incompetent bitch’s qualifications to be vice-president amount to a ‘witch-hunt’.

    Melanie Phillips, go outside in the rain and stand there looking up with your mouth open for a while. I’m sure life will improve as a result, at least for the saps who actually agree with you.

  22. #22 Kitty
    October 17, 2008

    paved the way for the onslaught on bedrock moral values expressed through such things as family breakdown and … unprecedented levels of near psychopathic violent crime, epidemic drunkenness and drug abuse,

    She’s familiar with Victorian London then?
    Ah wait – Daily Mail journalist! Warning! Warning! BS alert!

  23. #23 Canuck
    October 17, 2008

    Not sure if this has been brought up in the comments or not, but as I recall, the studies show that atheists are grossly underrepresented in prisons considering their number as a proportion of the population. Apart from that one little item, the things she accuses us of are not things my atheist friends represent. I live in an area where there are lots of fundies, and they get up to all manner of adultery, divorce, ill mannered behaviour, etc. I know one guy who is a right winger (though I haven’t seen him in years) and his wife left him because he beat her, and his daughters moved to the west coast because he beat them. So this shit about atheists being a cause of moral decay is a crock of shit. All of the atheists I know, and that’s a lot of people, are the very finest of people.

    Religious people are a goddam pain in the ass.

  24. #24 Pierce R. Butler
    October 17, 2008

    C’mon guys, the Wall St collapse is proof that Jesus loves us.

    Or would you rather have Rain * 960 hours?

  25. #25 One Eyed Jack
    October 17, 2008

    (In my best Erkel voice)…”Did I do that?”

    Wow, I had no idea we were so influential. I’m feeling suddenly empowered. Thank-you!

  26. #26 Gene
    October 17, 2008

    …the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness…

    Wait a minute… now the atheists are the credulous ones?

    WTF?

  27. #27 Kel
    October 17, 2008

    So now that we have people working to maintain a material system (because it’s the only one we have) suddenly that system goes bad?

    She not the sharpest tool in the shed. But to be a conservative pundit you don’t want that!

  28. #28 peter g
    October 17, 2008

    And of course it begs the question,
    how many of the principle players in the greed machine collapse would call themselves christian?
    I will hazzard a guess it’s the majority.

  29. #29 Sastra
    October 17, 2008

    Obviously, we atheists need to voice the reasons why we are atheists — clearly, strongly, and often.

    From our standpoint, we see it as a matter of arriving at a conclusion through discipline, responsibility, honesty, and an unwillingness to give in to the self-gratification inherent both in the process of faith, and its flattering conclusions. Virtually all theologies and spiritualities have the entire cosmos concerned with and intricately connected to human needs and values. This central specialness doesn’t really add much to human humility.

    It shouldn’t matter whether the theist agrees with our conclusions or not. They need to recognize the integrity behind the way we arrived at them. As long as they can still frame it as “the only reason someone would be an atheist is so they can do whatever they want without consequences” we’re going to get this sort of nonsense thrown at us.

    The problem is not that we’ve been ‘militant’ (ie outspoken.) We haven’t been outspoken enough.

  30. #30 Pierce R. Butler
    October 17, 2008

    As for Ms. Phillips’s litany of woes: has anyone asked her to contemplate the miniscule level of all such indiscretions (except the “epidemic drunkenness”, already an established Traditional Value?) in the good ol’ godless USSR?

  31. #31 Scott from Oregon
    October 17, 2008

    The “financial breakdown” was/is caused by the manipulation of the markets by big government and the corporate crowd they run with.

    Every part of the economic system is designed to float dollars upwards into an elite class who reap the benefits of being able to game the system and control it by controlling the central government itself.

    The banksters are laughing all the way to the bank everytime some well meaning liberal wants to shovel more power to a central authority, because they know they have the inside track on this authority, and have gamed the system well.

    Why are 401K’s such a big deal these days? Because the government promoted their use by the manipulation of taxes.

    Now retired folks who were about to be dependent on that money to live have lost 30% of it, and are in danger of losing much more. Why is so much of their savings in the market? Because it benefits the big cats in the market. Who pushed them into the market? The government that colluded with the big cats…

    Where is Joe The Rational when you need him?

  32. #32 Jon D
    October 17, 2008

    I love how the religiots say atheism is causing a loss in self-discipline. At least we dont need the fear of an invisible sky wizard to make us behave.

  33. #33 newswriter
    October 17, 2008

    Hey, I was with her right up until “militant atheism.” “the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as ‘rights’ and the loss of self-discipline” — that all made perfect sense to me. But I’m at a loss as to how atheism, be it militant or … whatever, could cause those things, seeing as how they describe an awful lot of people of a religious bent.

  34. #34 CJO
    October 17, 2008

    It was like that when I got here.

  35. #35 Sioux Laris
    October 17, 2008

    This kind of stupid crank is always on the lookout and hoping to catch the scapegoating wave. The aim is to be “hanging ten” when the “new jews” are elected – a seasonal event.

    Thank my lack-of-god I will never meet this ignorant, evil un-human.

  36. #36 Reginald Selkirk
    October 17, 2008

    I wouldn’t want to be a gay atheist then.

    How about a black gay atheist?

  37. #37 Rebecca
    October 17, 2008

    Damn, we’re good.

    I’m impressed by our organizational skills, scope, and influence. Who knew?

  38. #38 Carlie
    October 17, 2008

    Wow, I didn’t know we were so influential!

    I will now use my powers of militant atheism to get everyone a pony. The kind that poops glitter rainbows.

  39. #39 tom
    October 17, 2008

    What I find most interesting about this is that the whole rant about crime and instant gratification seems so… 80s. Or at best early 90s. I mean, I’m only 31 and I’ve been hearing my whole damn life about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket, yet the crime rate is pretty decent, ya know?

  40. #40 John C. Randolph
    October 17, 2008

    We’re in an economic mess because a bubble, fueled by inflation of a fait currency, is collapsing.

    I don’t think that anyone ever said that the Federal Reserve was a religious organization, but if it’s explicitly atheist, that’s news to me.

    -jcr

  41. #41 ggab
    October 17, 2008

    My bad guys, it was actually just my fault.
    I didn’t realise we would all share the blame.
    Sorry about that.

  42. #42 Dave
    October 17, 2008

    We are mighty!

  43. #43 Patricia
    October 17, 2008

    What a deal! Everything is PZ’s fault. Hot damn. Now if one of my chickens doesn’t lay an egg I can take PZ’s name in vain. That damn contemptible Myers did it!

  44. #44 xebecs
    October 17, 2008

    Well, it was atheists who invented the “Prosperity Gospel”. I’m sure I read that somewhere… Let’s see… http://www.conservapidia.com... that is spelled with a “vapid”, right?

  45. #45 Ian H Spedding FCD
    October 17, 2008

    Time was, the Daily Mail was a respectable newspaper but for a long time now it’s been moving in the general direction of Wingnut Daily and I’m sure Phillips would feel right at home writing for them.

  46. #46 Cuttlefish, OM
    October 17, 2008

    God save us from the Atheists–
    They’re even worse than Gays;
    God save us from depravity and wicked, wicked ways.

    They reek of impropriety
    And decadence and sin
    Their morals do not come from God, but rather from within!

    Their Bedrock Moral Values
    Are discarded in the dust;
    No fear of Hell prevents them from succumbing to their lust!

    Why, only our profound belief
    In God’s Most Holy Joys
    Prevents us from–well, most of us–molesting altar boys!

    As Jesus said, “forgive them”
    In His final mortal breath–
    We’d never bother cracker-thieves, nor threaten them with death.

    Our Faith provides humility–
    We know that we are flawed.
    And sometimes our appeals for tithes are bordering on fraud

    And looking through our history
    Of meeting other cultures
    It seems sometimes we’re not quite doves so much as we are vultures

    But through it all, we’re moral
    Cos we’re acting in God’s Name;
    And when our culture goes to Hell… there’s Atheists to blame.

  47. #47 The Chemist
    October 17, 2008

    My only comment:

    Moron.

  48. #48 Jeanette
    October 17, 2008

    “Militant blacks, militant feminists, militant gays, militant atheists… ”

    Don’t those people realize that we know that trick by now?

    How about being a black lesbian atheist? That would suck (from the standpoint of minorityhood), too.

    But if racial minorities, sexual minorities, atheists and agnostics, and women ever all got together, instead of being pitted against each other, we would rule the world. (Dunno what we’d do with it; seems like people who rule the world always go in a bad direction with that. Maybe we could break that streak?)

  49. #49 Blake Stacey
    October 17, 2008

    Phillips is also a denier of evolution, the safety of vaccines, and global climate change, which sort of tells you what her opinion is worth.

    Damn. She’s hit the n-fecta.

  50. #50 Brownian, OM
    October 17, 2008

    Point me to one time when people did not do all of these things and more that we have managed to push out.

    I’ve come to understand from theological and historical scholars that I know that this idyllic Eden-like time was called the fifties, and lasted from the birth of time until the feminazis and negras started gettin’ all uppity.

    Thank my lack-of-god I will never meet this ignorant, evil un-human.

    Now, now. It’s kind of fun to run into them on occasion and rip ‘em and their arguments to shreds in front of a crowd of onlookers.

  51. #51 John C. Randolph
    October 17, 2008

    Why is so much of their savings in the market? Because it benefits the big cats in the market.

    Something else to bear in mind, is that the regulatory environment we have makes it extremely difficult for smaller businesses to raise capital through the sale of equity, instead of having to operate on bank credit. Because of the SEC regs, it’s just not worth it to offer shares to the public until you need tens of millions of dollars in operating capital.

    There are any number of local businesses around here where I know the owners, and I’d be quite happy to risk a couple of grand on their future success. If we could all do that, then that’s probably hundreds of billions of dollars that would get invested in smaller businesses instead of pulling in less-than-inflation interest rates in money market funds or CDs.

    -jcr

  52. #52 RAM
    October 17, 2008

    Religious scapegoats for the ALL the worlds ills before the Age of Enlightenment.
    -Witches
    -Warlocks
    -Jews
    -Various Succubus
    -Black cats
    -Trolls
    -The Vapors
    -Heretics

    Religious scapegoats for the all the worlds ills post Age of Enlightenment.
    -Militant Atheists and non-believers who won’t sit down, shut up, and let the god botherers run politics any crazy way they see fit.
    -And of course Jews, just because.

  53. #53 Kutsuwamushi
    October 17, 2008

    There must be a lot more militant atheists in America than we thought. Secret militant atheists! I like this idea. I bet they have a secret handshake.

    Either that or atheists are like ninjas, sneaking into Good Christians’ homes at night and instilling in them a need for McMansions and shiny SUVs, and slipping away without ever being noticed!

  54. #54 Andy Jamesj
    October 17, 2008

    Exactly the same arguments were made about the Jews by Hitler before the “Final Solution”. She is by every definition a Nazi. What an awful person.

  55. #55 George
    October 17, 2008

    The deranged Melanie Phillips, Britains Ann Coulter complains of “credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda”, sorry but is she writing about her own viscous screeds. Another pet peeve when did “Judeo-Christian” insinuate itself upon the public realm? For the fundy’s the term Christo – Islamic would be more appropriate. And it would annoy the hell out of them.

  56. #56 Wowbagger
    October 17, 2008

    a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda

    Er, she’s still talking about atheists, right? Because that sounds more like a description of religious believers and/or adherents of new-age woo than it does the average skeptical atheist.

  57. #57 raven
    October 17, 2008

    The current dramatic financial collapse is a fundie pseudoXian Death Cult production. As is the pointless war in Iraq.

    The christofascists controlled the country for the last 8 years through the Theothuglican party. Which used to be the GOP before they destroyed that too.

    This point is not lost on the US citizenry, many of whom are sick and tired of fundie wingnuts by now.

    Melanie Phillips needs to look in a mirror. And then cast her stones at what she sees.

  58. #58 Mark Mattern
    October 17, 2008

    Financial breakdown? Yeah, Because all our members of government are militant atheists. Right?

  59. #59 CalGeorge
    October 17, 2008

    If I’m responsible for the financial crisis, I want some of that bailout money!

    Was the South Sea Bubble also our fault?

    No doubt. We’re everywhere. We’re EVIL!

  60. #60 Azdak
    October 17, 2008

    The comments section of her post was staggeringly depressing. How do we even begin to address that level of ignorance and stupidity? WTB Firehose o’Knowledge.

  61. #61 Mariana
    October 17, 2008

    She starts with atheism and ends with credulity. Talk about a derailed train of thought.

  62. #62 Peter Vesuwalla
    October 17, 2008

    Didn’t America add the words “In God we trust” to the money specifically to prevent this sort of thing?

  63. #63 Peter Zachos
    October 17, 2008

    I normally would not stoop to derogatory attacks.

    But in this case, I think the word rhymes with “bunt”.

  64. #64 raven
    October 17, 2008

    PZ, the worst part is that she’s sympathetic towards Sarah Palin, claiming that our criticizism of the mentally incompetent bitch’s qualifications to be vice-president amount to a ‘witch-hunt’.

    Oh gee, that is soooo wrong. We (the US public) were on a fundie moron bigot hunt. Unlike witches, these are real and rather common.

    Not much of a sport really. They just lurch around repeating centuries old fallacies while chanting “jesus loves you” and trying to destroy everything around themselves.

  65. #65 MH
    October 17, 2008

    Melanie Phillips at Wikipedia.

    That’s a pretty depressing career path. I predict that in ten years time, she’ll be making Hitler look like a liberal, and her literary output will consist solely of expletives, written using her own shit, on the side of an abandoned barn in Turkmenistan.

  66. #66 RamblinDude
    October 17, 2008

    I mean, I’m only 31 and I’ve been hearing my whole damn life about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket…

    Stick around a while longer – nothing will change.

  67. #67 John Tate
    October 17, 2008

    Melanie Phillips is generally regarded over here in the UK as a ‘militant idiot’

    She’ll say anything to get attention – just ignore her.

  68. #68 Longtime Lurker
    October 17, 2008

    Defining “credulous”… she’s doin’ it RONG!

    “Big ups” to Bob L and xebecs for mentioning the “Prosperity Gospel”. Reverend Creflo Dollar a militant atheist? Nice!

  69. #69 MH
    October 17, 2008

    The ironic thing is that she is Jewish, and yet she’s trying to blame all of society’s problems on a notoriously misunderstood minority, with absolutely no evidence that they are responsible. I wonder what her ‘solution’ will be?

  70. #70 Farb
    October 17, 2008

    Q: Where’s the best place to hide a broken moral compass?

    A: A prayer breakfast. To drive home the point, be first in line to persecute the irreligious.

    For points of comparison, simply refer to any documentation of perversion within the Inquisition, profiteering among Marxists, or pro-lifers suggesting that their political opponents should have been aborted.

    The best way to hide one’s own moral bankruptcy is to expose another’s, whether it’s there or not. Point the finger, duck, then continue as before.

    Faux-religiosity can be both fun and profitable.

  71. #71 Skeptico
    October 17, 2008

    She’s a real idiot – I’ve written about her before:

    http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2007/08/idiot-journalis.html

  72. #72 LordJiro
    October 17, 2008

    I wouldn’t want to be a gay atheist then. A gaytheist?

  73. #73 ThinkingApe
    October 17, 2008

    “unprecedented levels of near psychopathic violent crime”

    Really? I…No, this is a joke. I call bullshit, nobody’s that stupid.

  74. #74 Mighty Militant Atheist
    October 17, 2008

    Bow down before me you sniveling religious gnats! For I, the Mighty Militant Atheist, Destroyer of Culture, Financial Markets, Fatherhood, Truth, Justice, and the ‘Murican Way, etc., etc., etc., have come before you. Look upon my mighty deeds and despair. Pray to your false gods that I don’t raise a leg and let loose a mighty fart in your general direction.

    Now go, or I will taunt you second time.

  75. #75 Rowen
    October 17, 2008

    I wonder what she makes of all the financial depressions that happened during the 19th century. Or as they were called, “panics.” Since, you know, atheists didn’t exist then.

  76. #76 Peter Zachos
    October 17, 2008

    Eh.. sorry, my post was slightly inaccurate.

    I meant “cupid bunt”.

  77. #77 tresmal
    October 17, 2008

    I’m assuming henchmen were dispatched to “silence” her before she revealed The Truth to the world. Clearly they failed. Damn! Its so hard to find decent henchmen these days.

  78. #78 Dag Yo
    October 17, 2008

    Thanks PZ. This had me loling 4 realz.

  79. #79 extatyzoma
    October 17, 2008

    i wonder what % of the US population are ‘militant atheists’?? strange that according to mel they have a huge influence on the economy, i always assumed that the 90%+ who arent militant atheists would have had more sway on proceedings, maybe they dont pray enough, im sure they spend enough.

  80. #80 Screechy Monkey
    October 17, 2008

    No one expects the Militant Atheists! Our chief weapon is reason. Reason and logic. Our two weapons are reason, logic, and evidence. . . .

    Cardinal Myers, fetch… the plate of crackers!!!!!!

  81. #81 Wowbagger
    October 17, 2008

    family breakdown and mass fatherlessness,

    Perhaps she shouldn’t be attacking atheists who are, for the most part, inclined towards birth-control rather than abstinence-only ‘methods’; it’s far more likely to be the attitudes of the religious which lead to unwanted children.

  82. #82 Mark Mattern
    October 17, 2008

    What a pathetic cunt.

  83. #83 Nerd of Redhead
    October 17, 2008

    Cardinal Myers, fetch… the plate of crackers!!!!!!

    I think pizza and beer are more our taste. Especially on TFSMIF.

  84. #84 voskw
    October 17, 2008

    #72 “I wouldn’t want to be a gay atheist then. A gaytheist?”
    As a gay-atheist-engineer, and a PK btw too, that’s clever, but might be construed to mean “gay-theist”. I would not say God is great, nor is he **Devinely fabulous**

  85. #85 Sui Generis
    October 17, 2008

    Various Succubus

    (Succubi, and perhaps incubi.)

    I’m surprised Ms. Phillips doesn’t have a show on FOX. Billo and Sean Innanity would just pee on themselves. Perhaps she and Coulter can have a love tryst.

  86. #86 Jeanette
    October 17, 2008

    Cuttlefish (#46): You are appreciated.

  87. #87 Sui Generis
    October 17, 2008

    #84;
    a “PK”?

  88. #88 Sui Generis
    October 17, 2008

    Cuttlefish needs no naked displays of awe, for he is aware of his awesomeness.

  89. #89 JM Inc.
    October 17, 2008

    The myopia of these sorts of people never ceases to amaze. They act as if the world hasn’t existed, replete with its own set of problems, for billions of years (or hell, even the thousands they accept are real).

    Cato the Elder, remember him? He bitched in exactly the same way, using precisely the same reasoning, about entirely the same things as these whackaloons, and he probably thought he was the first one with the vision to realise that the oceans will boil and people’s brains will sizzle in their skulls and their eyes will burst out and they’ll all bleed and scream and cry if we don’t do something about it soon, too.

    The chief difference, I would say, is that yesterday’s crackerjacks actually had some rhetorical style.

    I guess if you can’t help but blame all of your problems on the Other, rather than examining the systemic institutional and axiomatic biases and errors inherent to a given complex of incumbent hegemonies, the world must always look like it’s about to implode painfully and crush you, as the house of cards mentality you imagined to be the Really Real Reality falls down little-by-little under the inexorable erosion of change.

  90. #90 Lago
    October 17, 2008

    I do not drink or smoke, and have also never taken drugs. My friend is a Pentecostal and drinks regularly and does coke.

    I wonder how that happened huh?

  91. #91 voskw
    October 17, 2008

    Sorry. PK = Preacher’s Kid (now feeling ashamed)

  92. #92 extatyzoma
    October 17, 2008

    ignorami like phillips dont see that anything not strangled with religious conviction isnt therefor ‘atheist’ by default.

    Shes in the same camp as hitchens brother peter who says immoral kids in the UK display ‘active atheism’ when the said kids have probably never thought about gods or lack of at all, now i’ll agree that had these kids had the fear of hell put into them as toddlers perhaps they wouldnt be killing random grannies but just because they havent doesnt mean they are atheist, thats like saying somebody who isnt a muslim must therefore be a jew or if you dont cook a turkey on thanksgiving day you must be a vegan gay communist.

  93. #93 Wowbagger
    October 17, 2008

    My friend is a Pentecostal and drinks regularly and does coke.

    Yeah, but if he says, ‘Jebus, can you forgive me? Pretty-please, with sugar on top?’ then everything’s okay; he’s off the hook.

    I mean, come on – obviously, it’s the rotten atheists who do bad things and don’t pretend that the invisible super-best-friend-in-the-sky is prepared to give them another chance who are the real problem. Because perceived forgiveness by a non-existent being has to be the best way to prevent someone from doing it again.

  94. #94 Sui Generis
    October 17, 2008

    You mean it’s all my fault?

    I assumed marriage prepared you for that way of thinking. Just nod and say “yes, Dear”.

  95. #95 Grimalkin
    October 17, 2008

    Because during the 1930s, in the great depression, everyone was atheist. Because the Victorian era, when vast numbers of mothers doped their babies up on opium to keep them quiet while they worked in the factories all day and little boys died of soot-lung before puberty, was known for its atheism and mass rejection of “family values.”

    Yeah… That’s only 200s and by no means exhaustive of even that little span of time.

  96. #96 Lauren
    October 17, 2008

    I <3 being the bad guy.

  97. #97 Sui Generis
    October 17, 2008

    Sorry. PK = Preacher’s Kid (now feeling ashamed)

    No shame. It was my ignorance. I couldn’t figure out how you were atheist and a Promise Keeper.

  98. #98 Sui Generis
    October 17, 2008

    Posted by: Lauren | October 17, 2008 8:14 PM
    I

    Yes…YES????…

  99. #99 sabazinus
    October 17, 2008

    As a gay atheist I take full responsibility for this mess as well as all others. So sorry. I promise that once the “gay agenda” is fulfilled everything will be better…and far more color coordinated.

  100. #100 shonny
    October 17, 2008

    Maybe the anthrop departments of unis should offer more courses in cretinology??
    Poo-for-brain Melanie Phillips would be among the many that could be subjected to in-dept studies of how inane it is possible to be, and still be allowed a say in print.
    The catlickers, and in particular Bill the pedo whatsmecallit, and evangelicals provide lots of research material.
    The same cretins would also make a good substitute for lab rats, maybe even better ones than lawyers.

  101. #101 Jadehawk
    October 17, 2008

    That doesn’t even begin to make sense… atheists are less likely to go to prison, get divorce, or end up with unwanted and uncared-for children. how exactly is that causing the moral downfall of society?!

    and why is there a moral downfall of society every 4 years….?

  102. #102 Sui Generis
    October 17, 2008

    We have a Melanie Phillips here in the US too, only we call her Dr. Laura.

  103. #103 Wowbagger
    October 17, 2008

    Perhaps she should learn the basics:
    correlation != causation; no correlation definitely != causation.

  104. #104 Gadfly
    October 17, 2008

    @76 by Peter Zachos

    Eh.. sorry, my post was slightly inaccurate.
    I meant “cupid bunt”.

    Are you sure that you didn’t mean “cupid stunt”?

  105. #105 Annick
    October 17, 2008

    I normally would not stoop to derogatory attacks.

    But in this case, I think the word rhymes with “bunt”.

    You’re insulting my beautiful genitalia by comparing it to that.

  106. #106 Eric Atkinson
    October 17, 2008

    Skeptico;
    I spent some time looking around your site. Very nice. Thanks for th URL.

  107. #107 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    October 17, 2008

    “….the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda — and intimidation and bullying to drive this agenda into public policy.”

    Ah, she’s been listening to the McCain-Palin campaign.

  108. #108 Sastra
    October 17, 2008

    I read the quote-filled link Skeptico provided in #71 (well, as much as I could stand), and Phillips is apparently doing what all too many conservative theists do — she’s equating secular humanism with ‘pop’ postmodernism. Both of them reject conservative religion, they reason, so they must be the exact same thing.

    Wrong. The humanism which grew out of the Enlightenment is grounded in science and ethics, and is certainly not the same as the ‘we all have our own truths’ populist relativism which is the conservative bugbear. If anything, the anything-goes ‘no objective truth’ view is a rebellion against the human limitations revealed by science, and it has the same basic approach as faith. Scientific humanists tend to lump it together with religion: they’re both forms of egocentric irrationalism.

    Silly woman.

  109. #109 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    October 17, 2008

    Maybe Militant Atheism TM is like plutonium; it onlt takes a teeny tiny bit to contaminate a large area. Or, to mix several metaphors, maybe Cgristian Culture TM is like Wile E. Coyote walking off the edge of a cliff. He’s fine until we atheists encourage him to look down (since it is an axiom of Cartoon Physics TM that characters will hang/walk/run unsupported in space until they notice they are hanging/walking/running in space unsupported in space, at which point they will plummet to the ground, producing a ring of dust upon impact). Hanging/ walking/running in space unsupported = having “faith”.

  110. #110 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    October 17, 2008

    Look! I just invented a new religion; all hail Cgristianity…..

  111. #111 Pierce R. Butler
    October 17, 2008

    George @ # 55: … when did “Judeo-Christian” insinuate itself upon the public realm?

    It seems the earliest known reference dates from 1899 (at which point it referred to the transition period of Christianism separating from Judaism in the “1st century” CE).

    None of the “Founding Fathers” – through Abe Lincoln, yet – ever even heard the term in their lifetimes.

  112. #112 Michael Glenn
    October 17, 2008

    “. . . the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as ‘rights’ and the loss of self-discipline.” Sounds like Wall Street and the Republican platform to me.

  113. #113 Lago
    October 17, 2008

    I was wondering, would I be helping the gay agenda along if I asked some of the gays to come to my condo and decorate it? I wanted to go with that modern IKEA everything came in a brown box look. Any helpers?

  114. #114 Pierce R. Butler
    October 17, 2008

    JM Inc # @ 89: I guess if you can’t help but blame all of your problems on the Other, rather than examining the systemic institutional and axiomatic biases and errors inherent to a given complex of incumbent hegemonies, the world must always look like it’s about to implode painfully and crush you…

    Yabbut I tend to analyze the holy crap out of systemic institutional and axiomatic biases etc, and the world still looks like it’s about to implode painfully and crush me.

  115. #115 Charlie
    October 17, 2008

    Fractally Wrong
    Wrong at every level
    No matter how close or far away from her you get she is just wrong…

  116. #116 Evolving Squid
    October 17, 2008

    Wow, I laid off the booze right about the time I decided once and for all that I was an atheist. It seemed to me that once I was sure that there was no God to forgive me cosmic whitewash for being a drunken asshole to people, and I had to live with it, I lost a lot of urge to continue being a drunkard.

    Sure, that wasn’t the only reason, but it did play a part.

    I guess that shoots down her hypothesis.

    To me, cosmic whitewash (the notion that you can be forgiven after death and absolved of your douchebaggery in life) is a serious problem with religion. Atheists are unburdened by such a bonus and have to live with the consequences of their actions… but the followers of the magical desert fairy get to have their cretinous lives whitewashed. This goes far to explaining why we have religious wars but not atheist wars.

  117. #117 Blake Stacey
    October 17, 2008

    Sastra:

    The humanism which grew out of the Enlightenment is grounded in science and ethics, and is certainly not the same as the ‘we all have our own truths’ populist relativism which is the conservative bugbear.

    It’s their bugbear up until the moment they start invoking cafeteria relativism to brush aside some troublesome scientific discovery. Witness the “different starting points, same facts” attitude taken at the Creation “Museum” (which I guess is our own home-grown version of the Hindutva ideologues’ embrace of postmodernist memes).

  118. #118 JM Inc.
    October 17, 2008

    Pierce R. Butler, #114: Yabbut I tend to analyze the holy crap out of systemic institutional and axiomatic biases etc, and the world still looks like it’s about to implode painfully and crush me.

    Well, sometimes you’re just living in a closed spacetime with insufficient dark energy density and it can’t be helped.

  119. #119 JM Inc.
    October 17, 2008

    And Blake Stacey, #117 — You’re confusing postmodernism with premodernism.

  120. #120 ThatOtherGuy
    October 17, 2008

    “…and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda — and intimidation and bullying to drive this agenda into public policy.”

    Ah crap. ‘Scuse me guys, I’ll be back in a while, my irony meter just exploded.

  121. #121 IBY
    October 17, 2008

    Oh yes, atheists, just writing books promoting their ideas here and there, so militant. Once the books are written, I guess they are used as weapons of mass destruction.

  122. #122 Rat Bastard
    October 17, 2008

    If stupid actually burned, MS Melanie would be a sweet replacement for the coal-fired power plant of your choice. But the pollutants involved would be yet more nefarious.

  123. #123 abusedbypenguins
    October 17, 2008

    The vast majority of the bankers are “pillars of the community”, registered republicans and go to church. Who then proceed to rip off the rest of us who are none of the above.

  124. #124 Nasikabatrachus
    October 17, 2008

    Posted by: Michael Glenn | October 17, 2008 8:52 PM
    “. . . the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as ‘rights’ and the loss of self-discipline.” Sounds like Wall Street and the Republican platform to me.

    Last time I checked, Republicans believe in unchosen positive obligations as strongly as Democrats. They just have different emphases–looks behind the rhetoric, and they both expound moralities of individual slavery for societal order. The disagreements about exactly how to use the guns to force people into their vision is the only thing allowing each party to accuse each other of being their boogey-man version of libertarianism. “Look out, the gays/capitalists are getting married/selling things to poor people! Call in a Constitutional Airstrike!”

  125. #125 scooter
    October 17, 2008

    Nothing like being lectured on ‘Moral Relativsm’ by some right wing miltarist twit.

  126. #126 Clemens
    October 17, 2008

    Similarities between US today and Germany ’33:

    - Financial Crisis
    - Minorities to blame
    - Power in the hands of a cranky old man (Hindenburg/McCain) with a terrible monster waiting for his turn (Hitler/Palin).

    Both Hitler and Palin: Radical world views that are not based on evidence whatsoever.

  127. #127 clinteas
    October 17, 2008

    The fact that she is mentally ill aside,

    her comments have the character of a witchhunt towards those evil “militant atheists”,and I am much more concerned about that aspect of it than the insane content.

  128. #128 Jack Rawlinson
    October 17, 2008

    Phillips is a well-known British lunatic, writing for a well-known British bigot rag. Her ravings are of no more import than those of a blabbering street-corner nutcase.

  129. #129 The MadPanda
    October 17, 2008

    I believe the correct response to the person (and I use that term advisedly) in question might well be the simple question:

    “Project much?”

    X-ians like she, Donny-hue, and that Phelps character are the best recruiting tool we have. They provide such a clear example of where their lovely little mythology can lead.

    So I’m all for sending her a fruit basket or something, knowing that it’ll drive her mad with paranoia trying to figure out how we could possibly have tampered with the contents.

    The MadPanda, FCD

  130. #130 Sastra
    October 17, 2008

    Blake Stacey #117 wrote:

    Witness the “different starting points, same facts” attitude taken at the Creation “Museum” (which I guess is our own home-grown version of the Hindutva ideologues’ embrace of postmodernist memes).

    Yes, the minute they’re backed into a corner, they start up with the “everything is faith” routine. In order to place faith equal to reason, all conclusions are leveled down into cluelessness. You need ‘faith’ to trust science. You need faith to believe that other people have minds. Think the sun will come up tomorrow? Faith. Accept induction? Faith. Believe that your mother loves you? Believe that love exists? Believe that a = a? Faith, faith, faith.

    We don’t draw provisional conclusions. We “choose” what to believe, and then stay loyal. No relativism there.

  131. #131 bluescat48
    October 17, 2008

    [quote]Financial breakdown? Yeah, Because all our members of government are militant atheists. Right?[/quote]

    Maybe to her they are.

  132. #132 quantum cephalopod
    October 17, 2008

    IVY:

    Once the [atheist] books are written, I guess they are used as weapons of mass destruction.

    Sure, until some other atheist (ahem) stabs that atheist book with a nail and places it near a banana peel!

    Until that moment, I was an atheist. Now, knowing that there is a small hole in a copy of my atheist bible that is now residing in a land fill… I know there is a god, and he is teh jeebus.
    :)

    P.S. There have been so many wonderful posts on this thread… Thank you, all. Obviously my post sucks, but I just wanted to find a way to say thanks to you all before I became too inebriated to write individual responses to all of you.

    Cheers.

  133. #133 eddie
    October 17, 2008

    phillips is a child killer. She led the anti-vax crusade in uk after wakefield’s fraud and kids died of measles because of it.

    Sorry PZ, but I think it sullies your blog to even link to that.
    Worse than WND, more like linking to aryan nation site.

  134. #134 Bob Carroll
    October 17, 2008

    Thanks, Cuttlefish. You keep getting better and better.

    JMI (Is that Jim’s Mobile Industries?) Thing is, Cato was right. For generations, the seniors were predicting that the Roman Empire would collapse, kids didn’t respect their elders any more… etc. We’ve heard the same thing forever. Well, eventually, it did. Predictably, it will happen to us too.

    Cheers, Bob

  135. #135 quantum cephalopod
    October 17, 2008

    To me, cosmic whitewash (the notion that you can be forgiven after death and absolved of your douchebaggery in life) is a serious problem with religion. Atheists are unburdened by such a bonus and have to live with the consequences of their actions… but the followers of the magical desert fairy get to have their cretinous lives whitewashed.

    (My emphasis)

    It’s worse than that! All of their douchebaggery is is absolved not after death, but after each individual display of douchebaggery!

    …Assuming they pray afterwords.

  136. #136 epsilon
    October 17, 2008

    Well, if atheism is actually the problem (and we all know that it’s not), there is a very simple solution. Provide some fucking evidence for your claims.

  137. #137 quantum cephalopod
    October 17, 2008

    Ugh… Formatting iz hrd.

  138. #138 Longtime Lurker
    October 17, 2008

    Re:

    Posted by: voskw
    Sorry. PK = Preacher’s Kid (now feeling ashamed)

    I thought you meant Psychokinetic. You should feel ashamed for not having eeevil gaytheist mind-powers… and I bet you don’t live in a dormant volcano either!

    You’re making all us supervillains look bad!

  139. #139 noncarborundum
    October 17, 2008

    None of the “Founding Fathers” – through Abe Lincoln, yet – ever even heard the term in their lifetimes.

    I’m trying to imagine their hearing the term other than “in their lifetimes”, and having a hell of a time.

  140. #140 Ktesibios
    October 17, 2008

    Once again I find myself wishing that ol’ Ambrose Bierce were still among us, ’cause I’ve got another entry for the Devil’s Dictionary:

    Pundit: A person who makes a business of not knowing what (s)he is talking about, usually at great length.

  141. #141 Luftritter
    October 17, 2008

    This crazy lady made realize I’m part of a minority that can be blamed for everything: I felt so proud after hearing that.
    It’s like being part of a very exclusive club or elite…
    There is no better thing than being criticized by the right people! It gives lots of perspective.

    Thank you Melanie Phillips!

  142. #142 Robin
    October 17, 2008

    Cuttlefish #46-I bow to your talent. Awesome poem.

    Re: Melanie Phillips- what an idiotic thing to suggest.

  143. #143 eddie
    October 17, 2008

    Re Lago @113

    “IKEA…” – genius

  144. #144 Andrew D
    October 18, 2008

    Does being a proud atheist as well as a proud gun owner make me 2X the militant Atheist? Also a member of the Air National Guard! Maybe a triple threat! Go Me!

  145. #145 Andrew D
    October 18, 2008

    If only I were Gay…Hmmmm Oh Well, no one is perfect!

  146. #146 qedpro
    October 18, 2008

    Wow we’ve done all that?

    and we’ve only just begun…..

  147. #147 Rey Fox
    October 18, 2008

    I think anyone who uses more than one set of scare quotes in a paragraph should be ignored. In this case, we have “militant atheists”, which of course is a cheap dodge for bigots. It’s not good form to be directly bigoted against atheists (at least in Britain, it’s not), so we get the “militant” qualifier, which, as we all know by now means “an atheist who actually has the nerve to SAY OUT LOUD that he/she is an atheist.” The non-smear article equivalent is “self-proclaimed atheist”, as if there are any other qualifications required.

    Sastra is right, of course. We all have to be more vocal. Then maybe the “militant atheist” thing will start to become a redundancy. By the way, I still want one of those Oakland Athletics-style “Atheist” shirts. Are they available online? It’s a lot less corny than most of those Pharisee t-shirts that the Christianists wear.

  148. #148 Patricia
    October 18, 2008

    #132 – quantum cephalopod – Buck up son! You can never be too inebriated to post here. Now sit up straight, and look at me when I’m talkin’ to you boy. Refill your glass and carry on.
    When your head hits the desk it’s just a sign you’re payin’ attention. Speak up child, and don’t slump! Now come on! No sugar tits for a big boy like you. Back into the ring son! Go get em.
    Darn kids these days. Can’t hold their hooch.

  149. #149 Tulse
    October 18, 2008

    I do not by any means defend or support everything Palin stands for or has ever done. But I do know a witch-hunt when I see one

    Presumably those would be the hunts led by Palin’s pastor friend.

  150. #150 Kel
    October 18, 2008

    Darn kids these days. Can’t hold their hooch.

    You take that back!

  151. #151 Patricia
    October 18, 2008

    I will not.
    I’ve seen y’ll layin out behind the pig stys, swozzled on prune jack.
    You young’ns can’t take it.

  152. #152 Kel
    October 18, 2008

    Maybe those softies in the US…

  153. #153 Kn3w2Kn0w
    October 18, 2008

    Unbelievable, not just the idea of a sentient God (ha), but my mere observation of her writing skill being so great; yet, her message is so ignorant.

    Those who profess a religion which appalls human judgment, can be so damn judgmental! It always gives me the giggles.

    I’ll agree with her on some points on modern societies faults, but it’s coupled with what she ironically showcases: lazy thinkers. Don’t blame atheists just because we view ourselves in life differently. Christians make up over 80% of the prison population.

  154. #154 John Phillips, FCD
    October 18, 2008

    Oh WOW, cretinous right wing loon Melanie Phillips is again blaming atheists for all the ills of the world and successfully displaying her usual unending stream of stupid. Colour me surprised.

    Do my never ending shame, I share a surname and a country with her.

  155. #155 scooter
    October 18, 2008

    HeyPatricia what happened to Clinteas? Is he out diggin a bomb shelter or something?

  156. #156 Adam
    October 18, 2008

    She’s just a nasty little demagogue, hardly even worth dignifying with a response. Look at any of her Daily Mail articles, she just takes cheat shots to appeal to people’s prejudices.

  157. #157 geru
    October 18, 2008

    After the school shooting that killed 11 people in Finland a couple of weeks ago, a MP of the Christian Democrats party wrote in her blog that this is what happens when the influence of Christianity lessens in a society, something dark and scary steps in. Hard to imagine what that could mean…

    Deservedly, she got her ass chewed by over a hundred angry comments in the blog, but unfortunately there was no mention of it in the news.

  158. #158 scooter
    October 18, 2008

    Andrew @ 144

    Hah, I’ll top that I’m a Teaxas Populist, currently without a party, emotionally disturbed, consistently pissed off, have a huge big mouth, an alcohol problem and a gun fetish.

    ohhhh

    actually, I could have covered that by saying, ” Hi, Andrew, I’m from Texas.”

    Anyway FUCK these creationists, they’ll never get that shit in our schools even if they have to pry their textbooks from my cold green hands using Ann Coulter’s petrified tounge.

  159. #159 geru
    October 18, 2008

    Oh, the shooter was of course an atheist. As was the previous school shooter in the Jokela-incident that happened a year ago.

    Unfortunately the Jokela-shooter made an insane manifesto about being a “natural selector” and about killing of the weak and such. Still the big “A” word hasn’t specifically been mentioned in the media (except for a few Christian blogs), which I guess is an indicator of the scarce influence that religion has around here anymore.

  160. #160 clinteas
    October 18, 2008

    scooter,

    Im here.Was out jogging at 30 degrees and had to cool my head lol….

  161. #161 Patricia
    October 18, 2008

    Oh, hell! I don’t know what happened to him. :o(
    I was dressed up in my Ma Kettle costume today peddlin eggs.
    Then I get home and the youngsters are passin out right and left. No bottom! That’s the trouble with today’s youth. They slump and mumble.
    It isn’t just the fellers. These days you try to get a young lady to stand up straight and stick out her chest, and you get more slumpers! No wonder our country is goin’ to hell.

  162. #162 pegleghippie
    October 18, 2008

    This all sounds strangely familiar…

    We have killed him, you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually,darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? – for even Gods putrefy! God is dead!

    Of course, Nietzsche’s crisis was merely existential, rather than financial…

  163. #163 Patricia
    October 18, 2008

    Scooter – There he is!
    Damn, it’s almost midnight here.
    About time to unlace the ol’ corset and toddle off to the rose petaled bower.

  164. #164 scooter
    October 18, 2008

    All right!!!

    Jogging? Those were they days.

    People used to ask me how I kept in such great shape, and was so well preserved.

    The answer was simple.
    METAMPHETAMINE, anyway I’m all cleaned up and a fat slob now.

    I have to bugger off for a awhile and edit down the last program, it was a weapons grade hoot, Jeff Tamblyn who produced Kansas vs Darwin and I guess you heard that the Texas school board committee has three Flame Retardant Gasbags from the discovery Institute who are NOT FROM TEXAS deciding the science curriculum so I’m a busy guy, but I’ll check in every half hour for inspiration.

    Piece

  165. #165 Patricia
    October 18, 2008

    Kel, you’re close.
    It’s them young yankee christian softies in the US that can’t hold their hooch. Sissies!
    The good ol’ southern boys lips go straight off the sugar tit onto the brass worm.

  166. #166 Patricia
    October 18, 2008

    Goodnight sweethearts!

  167. #167 clinteas
    October 18, 2008

    anyway I’m all cleaned up and a fat slob now.

    Im trying to avoid that fate lol…..

  168. #168 Tony
    October 18, 2008

    More gloriously nutty stuff from Mad Mel in the latest edition of the Jewish Chronicle.

    “Such ‘scientism’ — as this overreach is termed — goes beyond the ability of science to explain the nature of the world around us and claims to tell us how life began. Yet the assumption that science provides a complete theory of knowledge is itself fundamentally unscientific.

    Science generates more questions than it can answer. The more science unravels the mysteries of the world for us, the more mysterious it becomes. And, as the many scientists who are also religious believers demonstrate, there is no inherent conflict between religion and science.

    The dogma that science provides the answer to every question and so supplants religion has led to a junking of the moral codes deriving from Judaism and Christianity that underpin western society.

    This loss of cultural nerve has created an unwitting collusion between secular zealots and the Islamists who have declared war upon western civilisation, and who believe — correctly — that a secular west will be unable to resist them.”

    But now I see this latest article is virtually a word for word rehash of an earlier one she wrote (see Skeptico no 71). Ho hum, she makes a nice living..

  169. #169 clinteas
    October 18, 2008

    RD.net has a link to some nice religiously motivated insanity from an entity called Liberty Online :

    http://richarddawkins.net/article,3247,n,n

  170. #170 Pikemann Urge
    October 18, 2008

    Who says that acceptance of climate change as a crisis is required to be intellectually sober? I’m just saying.

    Seems that if you agree with a consensus view, you don’t have to be an expert. But once you disagree, no matter how qualified or knowledgable you are, if you aren’t an expert then you’re wrong.

  171. #171 Walton
    October 18, 2008

    I must say, I’m rather disappointed in the Spectator (usually one of my favourite magazines) for publishing this crap. Melanie Phillips is talking utter bollocks, and I say this as a conservative.

    The financial crisis has nothing to do with the degradation of moral values. Rather, it has to do with government, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere; the subprime mortgage crisis was originally sparked by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which during the 1990s were pressured by the Clinton administration into giving mortgages to non-creditworthy households in order to increase home ownership for poor minorities. All the problems are also related to “crony capitalism”, where the biggest players in a market use lobbyists to influence politicians and regulators, using government influence to weaken their competitors and destroy the free market.

    Melanie Phillips has swallowed the leftist dogma that this crisis represents a failure of the market. Hence why she’s talking all this nonsense about a breakdown in ethical values. In fact, the strength of capitalist economic theory is that it does not expect the participants in the market to behave morally. The beauty of the “invisible hand” theory is that, even if every single person acted only in their own narrow, venial self-interest, the result would still be prosperity for society as a whole.

    I also think it’s absolute hogwash to blame “militant atheists” for our economic woes, or indeed for any overall breakdown in morality in society. Most people (in the UK at least) are neither militant atheists nor strong religious believers; they’re generally somewhat apathetic towards religion. One can undoubtedly make an argument that the decline in religious observance has changed our society; but blaming some kind of cabal of “militant atheists” is simply empirically wrong.

  172. #172 Random Set
    October 18, 2008

    That Comic Sans Serif font is a bigger crime than bigotry. You shall burn in hell for that.

  173. #173 Kel
    October 18, 2008

    If you can’t blame the atheists, blame the minorities right Walton?

  174. #174 scooter
    October 18, 2008

    Stay tuned for the first counter-attack,
    It’ll be up on http://acksisofevil.org/innerside.html

    by morning.

  175. #175 Walton
    October 18, 2008

    Kel at #173: Please read my post again. I am not “blaming” the minorities. I am blaming the Clinton administration, who, in pursuit of the undoubtedly worthy goal of increasing home ownership amongst poor urban residents – who are disproportionately composed of ethnic minorities – pressured Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into financing mortgages for people whose creditworthiness was not sufficient. They even required that unemployment benefit be taken into account in assessing income. I am also blaming FDR for creating Fannie Mae in 1938, inserting government into the mortgage market, where it has no business to be.

  176. #176 BglBttr
    October 18, 2008

    Priceless, a british born jew want to join the NSDAP and even rival Eva Braun… Hey missus, Arbeit macht frei, want some?

  177. #177 CortxVortx
    October 18, 2008

    Re: #54

    I was thinking as I read her article, “Just substitute ‘Jew’ for ‘atheist’ and translate this to German.”

  178. #178 Kel
    October 18, 2008

    I am blaming the Clinton administration, who, in pursuit of the undoubtedly worthy goal of increasing home ownership amongst poor urban residents – who are disproportionately composed of ethnic minorities – pressured Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into financing mortgages for people whose creditworthiness was not sufficient.

    i.e. you are blaming minorities. You are just misdirecting it at the Clinton administration. Corporate greed had far much more to do with it, but of course that would be going against capitalism and we can’t have that. Blaming the whole thing on companies giving out bad loans to poor people is such a trivial assessment of what happened, it’s deflecting blame towards government because we can’t ever criticise the free market…

  179. #179 bastion
    October 18, 2008

    At #23 Canuck wrote:
    I live in an area where there are lots of fundies, and they get up to all manner of adultery, divorce, ill mannered behaviour, etc. I know one guy who is a right winger (though I haven’t seen him in years) and his wife left him because he beat her, and his daughters moved to the west coast because he beat them.

    Ah-ha! Surely you–or some other atheist–must be to blame. After all, these good religious folk can’t possibly be responsible for their own immoral behaviors!

    Does anyone know if the Awesome Values Degrading Power of the Atheist is more effective at short range–and therefore we wreck and ruin our own neighborhood first–or if proximity isn’t a factor, so we have the ability to destroy even far-off cultures?

    I just wanna know how far my prodigious powers extend.

  180. #180 Emmet Caulfield
    October 18, 2008

    Walton,

    The complex causes of the financial meltdown of 2008 will probably be the subject of dozens of PhD theses in economics, sociology, politics, and history. It will probably be years before we have necessary perspective to understand it and, even then, experts will disagree. Right now, it’s all conjecture, much of it better informed than yours, where, in typical wingnut fashion, you short-circuit all scholarship with “it was Clinton pandering to the niggers”.

    Well done. Very erudite.

  181. #181 Emmet Caulfield
    October 18, 2008

    If anyone wants a definite article, I have one left over from #180.

  182. #182 clinteas
    October 18, 2008

    Emmet @ 180,

    youre correct of course,and anyone not blinded by ideology should be able to see that.

    The real insanity was for that lady to try and make this connection :

    I see this financial breakdown, moreover, as being not merely a moral crisis but the monetary expression of the broader degradation of our values – the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as ‘rights’ and the loss of self-discipline

    between the financial crisis and atheism.Therein lies the real madness LOL.

  183. #183 Emmet Caulfield
    October 18, 2008

    Clinteas,

    Indeed. But, you have picked out but one nugget of shit from her indigestible salad of prejudice, fallacy, and non-sequitur. Your stomach must be stronger than mine.

  184. #184 guthrie
    October 18, 2008

    WAlton #171- you seem to have swallowed certain peoples opinions as if they were fact. Can you find any evidence to support the idea that it was a Clinton administration idea of encouraging home ownerhsip amongst minorities which cause this?
    Will this do to counter what you have heard?
    http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/HomeFinancing/did-poor-minorities-cause-the-crisis.aspx

    On the other hand, I am glad we all agree about Melanie Phillips.

  185. #185 Matt7895
    October 18, 2008

    I can’t believe I once said this woman isn’t as bad as Ann Coulter. How embarrassed am I now!

  186. #186 DangerAardvark
    October 18, 2008

    Remember the official creed of militant Atheism: “We’re right. You’re wrong. Let’s talk about it some more.”

  187. #187 clinteas
    October 18, 2008

    @ 185

    I can’t believe I once said this woman isn’t as bad as Ann Coulter

    Surely not this Ann Coulter?

    http://ifuckedanncoulterintheasshard.blogspot.com/

  188. #188 Tony Sidaway
    October 18, 2008

    I actually remember Melanie Philips from years ago, when she was a reasonably sane, feminist, left-of-center social commentator. More recently I noticed her name again, and it seems that she has metamorphosed into an extreme frothing right wing loony who would probably be gently led out of any Conservative Party meeting into an ambulance.

    What happens to make people go that way?

  189. #189 Mantecanaut
    October 18, 2008

    Urgh. Just reading the woman’s name makes me sick in my mouth a little bit.
    I’m British, and familiar with Philips. She is a twisted, poisonous hag that writes for a racist homophobic hag that supported facism and caused actual deaths by it’s prominent role in the MMR hoax.
    She is an utter disgrace.

  190. #190 clinteas
    October 18, 2008

    She is a twisted, poisonous hag that writes for a racist homophobic hag that supported facism and caused actual deaths by it’s prominent role in the MMR hoax.
    She is an utter disgrace.

    Most concise summary so far !!!

  191. #191 MH
    October 18, 2008

    #188 “What happens to make people go that way?”

    Religion? Syphilis? Bump on the noggin?

  192. #192 Barry
    October 18, 2008

    “epidemic drunkenness and drug abuse”

    Has she been spying on me?

  193. #193 mikespeir
    October 18, 2008

    Why, I’ve never had a drink in my life! Now, I am a psychopathic killer….

  194. #194 Tom Streamer
    October 18, 2008

    Ah PZ I’m so sorry, I feel I need to apologise as this “woman” [read shrew] is in fact English…oh the shame! She “writes” for the Daily Mail [unsuprisingly]. She is as you have pointed out…insane. Apologies again for my woefully inept and straying countrywoman! Personally I think she should be interned somewhere…possibly the Isle of Wight.

  195. #195 The Biologista
    October 18, 2008

    Thanks for highlighting this PZ. Goodness what a rant. Nowhere in her article can I seem to find any of that, what would you call it now… “evidence”. Some rather vocal religious authorities, and of course the Creationist movement, have frequently tried to prove the atheists = immoral case, but find themselves constantly being confounded by all the damn data ever collected on the matter.

    Blood-boilingly stupid, opinionated garbage.

  196. #196 Scott from Oregon
    October 18, 2008

    “WAlton #171- you seem to have swallowed certain peoples opinions as if they were fact. Can you find any evidence to support the idea that it was a Clinton administration idea of encouraging home ownerhsip amongst minorities which cause this?”

    It wasn’t THE CAUSE, but it was a contributing factor.

  197. #197 Roger Stanyard
    October 18, 2008

    Chiroptera comemnts on Phillips that “Huh. That sounds like fundamentalist Protestant approved capitalism to me. Am I missing something?”

    Yep, sure are. She isn’t Protestant and isn’t even Christian. She’s Jewish. All the more surprising because the family that own the Daily mail and employ her supported Hitler for years before WW2. The only reason they dropped the support was because Jewish business started withdrawing its advertisements from the newspaper.

    There is now’t like hypocracy when it comes to money. Phillips seems to be in the same mold as she was a left wing journalist when her former employer, the left wing Guardian, was paying her.

  198. #198 Mike Phillips
    October 18, 2008

    Hey Tom Streamer #194
    What has the Isle of Wight ever done to you?
    The Isle of Dogs, maybe. . . . . !

  199. #199 Drunk Right Now
    October 18, 2008

    Walton said:

    The financial crisis has nothing to do with the degradation of moral values. Rather, it has to do with government, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere; the subprime mortgage crisis was originally sparked by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which during the 1990s were pressured by the Clinton administration into giving mortgages to non-creditworthy households in order to increase home ownership for poor minorities.

    The crisis wasn’t started by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it was a symptom of the housing bubble, inflated home values, and low interest rates set by Alan Greenspan, the mortgages sold in packages back by securities, credit swaps and derivatives (mysterious paper), risky loan and investments. Congress didn’t FORCE banks to make these loans and it was non-regulated banks making the majority of these risky loans not those banks subject to meeting Community Reinvestment Act requirements. It isn’t just minorities defaulting on loans besides. And yes, there was a degradation of moral values if you consider how loans were rates, false appraisal reports, bloated home values and lack of good lending practices by people who should know better.

    Perpetuating this myth that the Clinton administration is at fault is both irresponsible and lacking in insight. Slate explains simply how you and the know-nothing pundits are full of ideological baloney trying to pin blame on one thing.

    That doesn’t make your claims that much better than Melanie Phillips.

    Now, I’m off to act like the militant atheist Ted Haggard, hang around with a male prostitute and use meth, then swindle people out of money, use school board’s funds to fight for inserting non-science in science classes (because education is so important) and maybe engage in some priestly molestations. Because the majority of the world claims to be religious, I must be part of powerful minority (who woulda thought?). Religious leaders and politicians are great examples of morality. Bush is a saint. I will try to aspire to these paragons of virtue and responsibility once I sober up.

  200. #200 mr-zero
    October 18, 2008

    As a fellow brit I feel I should apologise for Melanie Phillips. She is a manifest loon who seems to get more unhinged as time goes on. Take no notice of her. We keep her locked up at the Daily Mail where her insane bile is read only by other poisonous twats.
    Z

  201. #201 Blake Stacey
    October 18, 2008

    JM, Inc:

    And Blake Stacey, #117 — You’re confusing postmodernism with premodernism.

    No, I’m using the word as an umbrella term for the amorphous sea of ideas which includes poststructuralist and postcolonialist currents. See Meera Nanda’s Prophets Facing Backward for background on how these ideas have played out in modern India.

  202. #202 Svetogorsk
    October 18, 2008

    As a fellow brit I feel I should apologise for Melanie Phillips. She is a manifest loon who seems to get more unhinged as time goes on.

    I’m not about to disagree with any of that, but I’ve always been bemused as to why her husband, legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg, seems to be the epitome of balanced sanity.

    Maybe it’s a yin-and-yang thing?

  203. #203 Patricia
    October 18, 2008

    Drunk Right Now – Don’t give in to defeatism! Saddle up that bottle and get back on.

  204. #204 alyric
    October 18, 2008

    Oh the irony!

    “the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification,

    loss of self-discipline,

    the destruction of truth and objectivity;

    and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda”

    So, where were all these sterling virtues when she was lauding Andrew Wakefield and driving down MMR immunisation rates?

    She had to know by 2005 that the whole shebang was a scam from start to finish, but she provided that news-worthy ‘controversy’, so her lack of any scruple didn’t matter. As an active contributor to the lies, propaganda and evasion of journalistic responsibility it seems she’s looking for a scapegoat. I wonder why she’s doing it now? Still trying to be ‘newsworthy’ and therefore employable?

  205. #205 AndrewC
    October 18, 2008

    I’m half rooting for the economic collapse, since that’s what makes things change; and if drug abuse leads to the legalization of drugs, then even better. +1 atheism.

  206. #206 Matt Penfold
    October 18, 2008

    Melanie Phillips used to write for The Observer, and then The Times. Whilst I normally disagreed with her, she used to be able to make well argued points that were not lightly dismissed.

    However she seemed to have some kind of brain fart and has become more and more right wing ever since. She has ruined listening to the Moral Maze on Radio 4 for me. Whenever she is spouting her nonsense I end up throwing things at the radio. It gets expensive having to replace them after a bit. The irony of her being on the moral maze is that she is often on with Michael Portillo, who comes across as a being way to the left of her.

  207. #207 Svetogorsk
    October 18, 2008

    Michael Portillo seems to have made a similar journey to Melanie Phillips, but in reverse.

  208. #208 Tom Morris
    October 18, 2008

    I agree about Michael Portillo. He is eminently reasonable on the Moral Maze, and while he leans right on some of the questions, he seems not to have much truck with some of the religious brands of crazy often exhibited on the show.

    Did anyone hear the Moral Maze this week, by the way? They had a Catholic abbott on blaming the “militant atheist tendency” is sapping away the sources of virtue, which Melanie Phillips picked up on. For those who don’t listen, I’ve clipped out some audio of this discussion between Ms. Phillips and the abbott: 1.6Mb MP3

    (Note: the file is in three parts – a brief introduction of the abbott, then Phillips’ question to the abbott, then Phillips’ closing statement at the end. It’s a 1m chunk of a half hour show.)

    The clip has also got that religious propaganda meme of religion being left out of the (vaguely-defined) “public square” (a phrase which obscures the fact that being able to talk about religion in public is very different from having a right not to have anyone take the piss out of you, or to not allow you to hijack public funds and take over the educational system and turn it into a propaganda machine for religion).

  209. #209 WilliamP
    October 18, 2008

    She blames atheists for “the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda”

    It’s just funny how she completely fails to offer any evidence for this claim, yet expects credulity. She doesn’t even establish how morals are connected to the financial crisis. She asserts the connection in an explanation starting with: “I see this financial breakdown…” Some objectivity!

    Lying propaganda such as this is a very poor medium for classifying other people’s viewpoints as lying propoganda.

  210. #210 Walton
    October 18, 2008

    Guthrie at #184 and Drunk Right Now at #199:

    I’ve read plenty of editorials arguing both sides. This opinion piece by economics professor Russell Roberts contends that the CRA and federally-imposed targets were a contributory factor, pointing out that in 1996 the CRA-regulated banks were actually given a target of giving at least 42% of loans to people below the median income for their area:

    http:// online.wsj.com/ article/SB122298982558700341.html

    (spaces added to stop comments going into moderation)

    No one is contending that government intervention caused the whole of the subprime mortgage crisis. That’s a mathematical impossibility, as several people here have pointed out, since a large proportion of the problematic loans were not actually made by the GSEs or by CRA-regulated banks. Certainly, lots of private lenders chose to jump on the bandwagon and give out risky loans; and the regulators failed in their duty to prevent this. But it certainly seems arguable that it was the 1977 CRA and later 1990s government targets which sparked the growth in subprime mortgage lending, and therefore led directly to the financial crisis.

    Most historical events are not caused by one factor alone, of course. I’m currently reading Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom; as I understand it, his analysis of the Great Depression is that, contrary to popular belief, it was not solely created by the impact of the 1929 crash. Rather, it was exacerbated by the Federal Reserve’s serious errors in setting monetary policy over the 1929-31 period. So sometimes government errors can combine with natural market trends to make an economic crisis substantially worse than it would otherwise have been. The lesson is that government interference with the financial industry to achieve pre-determined social goals – as Roberts puts it, “doing good with other people’s money” – generally makes things worse for everyone in the long run.

  211. #211 Walton
    October 18, 2008

    And by the way, I resent the implication that I am somehow racist for pointing out the failure of the Carter and Clinton administrations’ policies. Yes, these policies were aimed at the worthy cause of allowing poor people in urban areas to buy their own homes, and, due to the legacy of segregation, a disproportionate number of these people happened to be ethnic minorities. It isn’t the recipients’ fault in the slightest; it’s the fault of the banks which chose to make loans to them which they could not, ultimately, pay back, and the fault of the federal government for pressuring banks into making such loans.

    I am not “blaming minorities”. I’m blaming the honest mistake of well-meaning left-wing politicians, who wanted to help more people to buy their own homes and, sadly, didn’t consider the long-term economic implications of interfering with the mortgage market.

  212. #212 Ken
    October 18, 2008

    I love the term “militant atheists”. Soon it will be extended to “fundamentalist atheist extremist terrorists”. I’m pretty sure we’ll see these terms used in an Ann Coulter book.

    I’m new here and just wanted to add that you have a great blog, PZ. Keep up the good work on the science front.

  213. #213 gazza
    October 18, 2008

    She’s not known as ‘Mad Mel’ for nothing in the UK (at least amongst those who know her scribblings).

    She has also been prominent in propagating the anti-MMR vaccination movement here in recent times.

    What is it about people that move rapidly from one end of the political spectum to the other? You’d think it would make them humble if they think they were once so dramatically wrong rather than the loud mouthed arrogant know-it-alls that they actually seem to become.

  214. #214 Svetogorsk
    October 18, 2008

    Peter Hitchens is another switcher – a Trotskyite revolutionary in the 1970s turned crusty old reactionary thirty years on, though I suspect in his case there’s a certain desire to take the exact opposite position held by his brother Christopher at any given moment.

  215. #215 Nick Gotts
    October 18, 2008

    Bloody hell. As if it’s not enough this post is about a British right-wing loony (Phillips), we have another British right-wing loony (Walton) chiming in. Walton, you nincompoop, this quote from you:
    where the biggest players in a market use lobbyists to influence politicians and regulators, using government influence to weaken their competitors
    is simply a description of capitalism: how it works, how it has always worked. The “free market” you blather about is a figment of your imagination. Crises, bubbles, panics and slumps have happened as long as capitalism has existed – they are fundamental to its nature. Your minority-blaming (no, your pious protestations don’t fool anyone) is poisonous garbage. Fortunately, it seems not to be fooling people this time. Stow it.

    (Incidentally, for others, the Russell Roberts Walton refers to is another right-wing loon, a student of Friedman, the well-know Pinochet supporter.)

  216. #216 Patricia
    October 18, 2008

    Yeah! Nick you’re back. :o) I was afraid Piltdown Man had worn you to a frazzle.

  217. #217 Scott from Oregon
    October 18, 2008

    “(Incidentally, for others, the Russell Roberts Walton refers to is another right-wing loon, a student of Friedman, the well-know Pinochet supporter.)”

    Once again we have Nick Gotts trying to debase an ideology by pointing to one evil man…

    Socialism, in Nick’s world, would never exist because we have Chavez…

    In fact, no economic order would exists in Nick’s world because there are examples of evil scattered everywhere.

    Poor Nick. He lives in a world with no social order…

    The “free market” has done the most good comparitively, in the world, and Nick knows this. Every country and regime who fails to tap into it ends up with shortages and food lines and poverty. No exceptions.

    The US government failed to allow the free market to work in America, and now we reap the consequences…

  218. #218 gazzaofbath
    October 18, 2008

    If this Walton chap is indeed a Brit it would be interesting to know what his take is of the apparently independant UK housing price bubble and its recent collapse.

    Doesn’t seem to be any social engineering involved at all there – just loose lending (high wage multiples for loans) as banks compete for market share plus a growth in small landlord house purchase (‘buy to let’). Then the bubble in prices bursts, the banks most exposed to the dodgier loans suffer, some collapse and the government steps in.

    It isn’t quite in the same league as the US sub-primes crisis in terms of re-possessions (we’re still waiting for that side to shake out) but it has led to unprecidented bank rescues and a dramatic halt in house building. The causes of this crisis seem universally to be ascribed to poor regulation of loose credit. OK, the credit crunch due to US sub-prime exposure of some UK banks played a role in pricking the bubble now rather than later but it is clear that the limited capitalisation of some banks involved in house loans was an accident waiting to happen.

    Does he not see any commonality in loose banking loan behaviour characteristic of a house price bubble or does he ascribe the bubbles in the US and UK at the same time to quite different causes?

  219. #219 Peter
    October 18, 2008

    That is one of THE STUPIDEST things I’ve ever read.

  220. #220 clinteas
    October 19, 2008

    SfO,

    The US government failed to allow the free market to work in America, and now we reap the consequences…

    please dont tell me you actually seriously believe that.

  221. #221 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    It’s Scott from Oregon. Of course he believes that. The most deregulated market in the world fails and it’s blamed on regulation. It’s like those people who blame religious fanaticism on tolerance.

  222. #222 Walton
    October 19, 2008

    I agree entirely with Scott from Oregon, and have little useful to add to his remarks at #217.

    In reply to #218: You have a point, but as you acknowledge, the UK housing crisis has not been nearly as dramatic as its counterpart in the US.

    We did have some silly behaviour from the banks as regards the mortgaging of houses (prior to its failure, Northern Rock was offering people secured loans up to 125% of the value of their property). Generally, the problem in the UK seems to have started mainly with those mid-sized banks which used to be building societies (Northern Rock, Alliance and Leicester, etc.). But Brown is pretty clearly to blame for allowing the whole mess to happen; as Chancellor, he reduced the Bank of England’s regulatory role, instead establishing the laughably ineffective Financial Services Authority. All the while pledging “an end to boom and bust”.

    But in the end, the world crisis today was not primarily caused by the UK, and I haven’t seen anyone seriously argue that it was. Ultimately, it was precipitated by problems in the US market which were caused, somewhere down the line, by government action, as has been already discussed on this thread.

  223. #223 Grammar RWA
    October 19, 2008

    Who gives a fuck what you think, Walton? You’re an anthropogenic global warming denialist with a long pattern of lying here at Pharygula. You cherry pick data and ignore conclusions that you dislike, while blatantly lying about the other commenters. Sort of tells us what your opinion is worth.

  224. #224 gazzaofbath
    October 19, 2008

    I’m not familiar with this Walton chap but I see from his reply to my comment on the UK housing/bank crisis that he isn’t the sharpest commentator on the issue – clearly someone with an idealogical axe to grind.

    It is true the internal UK crisis isn’t quite in the same league as the US sub-prime issue – but it has led to the collapse of a number of banks, something unheard of in the UK since the 1930′s (as far as main street banking is concerned). So pretty damn bad all the same!

    And he blames that one on the lack of UK government regulation of finance whilst the US crisis is allegedly caused by government intervention! But I thought you agreed with Scott of Oregon who seems to be against any intervention in free market operation (presumably that includes no regulation by government?) So the UK government was right to reduce finance regulations (Labour and Conservative, incidentally)? But you just blamed it for not regulating? Hang on, I’m going round in circles…..

  225. #225 John C. Randolph
    October 19, 2008

    The most deregulated market in the world fails and it’s blamed on regulation.

    Guess again. Ever worked for a bank? The only industries more regulated than banking are medicine and operating nuclear power plants. You should see what kind of hoops people have to jump through if they want to open a bank and compete in that marketplace.

    The system that is failing as we speak is a system where a government-created but privately-owned cartel has been given the power to inflate the money at will. Central planning failed here, for the same reason that it failed in the Soviet Union: there’s no way for the planners to have enough information to make the right decisions.

    -jcr

  226. #226 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    You are a persistent lot, I’ll give you that.

    Let me ask, how would a free market handle a crash like this? How would if everything turned to absolute shit, there were people being forced out of their homes, how would the free market make society any better? This is one thing I don’t get about libertarianism. The free market is all well and good in order to drive competition, but what happens when there are winners and competition fades? What happens when people are forced out of their homes? Does it even matter? Are people just another commodity?

  227. #227 John C. Randolph
    October 19, 2008

    The management of Fannie and Freddie were certainly incompetent, but the root cause of the bubble is the Fed making an unlimited supply of credit available. If the Fed didn’t inflate the money for the convenience of the government and its owners, then interest rates would rise in relation to the depletion of actual deposits available to lend.

    By severing that relationship of interest rates to the amount of savings, we get malinvestment like building more homes than people are willing or able to buy. That oversupply has to be liquidated; it has to revert to prices that the market will pay, (not the wishful-thinking levels that the banks are insisting on carrying on their books) and by intervening in the market to keep overpriced assets overpriced, the government can only prolong and worsen the problem.

    The bailout bill has been passed, and huge amounts of new credit have been pumped into banks and other institutions that should have failed, and we’re still in the same mess, because we haven’t had the correction. We really can’t tell who’s solvent and who’s not, so it’s just not safe to make loans. Here comes Paulson with hundreds of billions to buy shares in the banks, and they’ll sell him equity, but will they lend that money out? Not likely.

    The very same thing happened when the real estate bubble burst in Japan; the Japanese government gave a lot of taxpayers’ money to the banks, and they didn’t lend it out, they sat on it to bolster their own balance sheets, which was the safe thing for them to do. Japan’s economy stagnated for a decade. It looks like our government is on a path to do worse than that.

    -jcr

  228. #228 John C. Randolph
    October 19, 2008

    how would a free market handle a crash like this?

    The short answer is, it takes massive interference in the market to create a bubble and a crash like this in the first place. Bernanke’s even admitted that the Fed was responsible for the first great depression. I wonder if he’ll admit the Fed’s responsibility for the current one, too?

    -jcr

  229. #229 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    The short answer is, it takes massive interference in the market to create a bubble and a crash like this in the first place.

    And abstinence-only education stops the spread of STDs. Is it hard to answer this question? What would a libertarian solution to a problem like this be? What is the human cost of it all? Does it even matter if someone defaults on their home loan and they are pushed into the streets?

  230. #230 John C. Randolph
    October 19, 2008

    Is it hard to answer this question?

    Not at all. It’s been answered many times.

    What would a libertarian solution to a problem like this be?

    The solution to this problem is to stop trying to run the economy. The damage is already done, and the speed of the recovery will depend on how much further damage the government insists on doing with harebrained schemes like the bailout.

    The role for government in a free market is to enforce the rule of law and provide a court system to adjudicate contractual disputes, not to try to override people’s decisions as to what they’re willing to buy and how much they’re willing to pay.

    Does it even matter if someone defaults on their home loan and they are pushed into the streets?

    Of course it matters, and that’s why we shouldn’t allow the banking cartel to inflate the money supply. When bubbles break, people get hurt.

    -jcr

  231. #231 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    So basically, if you were in charge, you’d just get the hell out of it and let business go off on it’s own?

    The problem I have in this approach is the conflict of interest. A democratic government has a vested interest in keeping the population happy. By taking away all control, it gives business free reign into doing whatever is most profitable. In a system where monopolies so often come to power, how will people have any real choice in ensuring social progress and the continued safety of the planet. i.e. in the impending global energy crisis, how can we get corporations to look at limiting their focus on highly profitable consumption tactics and working towards more renewable resources?

    How do we stop them from plundering supplies, from excessive pollution, and working towards a more sustainable future? How do we limit the damage from corrupt business practices? Should the government step in when through the greed and dodgy dealings of a company in order to help maintain social form?

    Surely the people should have the right to some self-determination and have a system that will ensure that there’s long-term sustainability. How can that be achieved in a system run by ruthless businessmen whose main concern is having a better bottom line for the investors?

  232. #232 Steven Carr
    October 19, 2008

    Despite the time I devote to descrating communion wafers, teaching everybody to be homosexual while engaging in orgies, I still had the time to overthrow the entire Western banking system.

    But my schedule is now full.

    So one of you other guys will have to write my cook-book ‘Cooking with babies’. I just don’t have the time.

  233. #233 Walton
    October 19, 2008

    The role for government in a free market is to enforce the rule of law and provide a court system to adjudicate contractual disputes, not to try to override people’s decisions as to what they’re willing to buy and how much they’re willing to pay.

    Exactly what I’ve been trying to say all along! At least there are some other sane people here. :-)

  234. #234 negentropyeater
    October 19, 2008

    My oh my, Colin Powell backs Obama !

  235. #235 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    Exactly what I’ve been trying to say all along! At least there are some other sane people here. :-)

    Walton judging others on their sanity, this place does bring the lol’s at times.

  236. #236 Roger Scott
    October 19, 2008

    Melanie Phillips has my sympathy. To live in a world where people don’t believe in a god and do enthusiastically accept evolution must be pure hell. She is regularly and gently taken apart by Oliver Kamm http://timesonline.typepad.com/oliver_kamm/

  237. #237 Atheist Insurgency
    October 19, 2008

    SUCCESS!

  238. #238 Radwaste
    October 19, 2008

    This sort of thing goes on in local newspaper fora all the time. Some nut just starts lying and can’t stop.

  239. #239 Father Shaggy
    October 20, 2008

    I will concede that I am responsible for some drunkenness, but certainly not all of it.

  240. #240 Robyn
    October 20, 2008

    Just… wow. I have no words for the pure, distilled ignorance that is this woman.

    Seriously, does she live under the delusion that all people were moral and ethical until the 1960s or something?

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