Pharyngula

Richard Dawkins did it again, clearly stating his opinion of the Pope’s policy on birth control and AIDS prevention. One problem: he left out another possibility. The Pope could be evil.

I tend to favor a combination of all of the above.


I have received a communique from Richard Dawkins in which he protests that he was misquoted in the Telegraph. What he actually said was,

The Pope is either stupid, ignorant or wicked.

Much better.

Comments

  1. #1 JD
    April 1, 2009

    Dyspope is a bad dude.

  2. #2 pgpwnit
    April 1, 2009

    The pope do what the pope do. We should not be surprised when he do it. He’s being perfectly consistent with his position. Which, to be honest, is a position that originates in ignorance.

  3. #3 Eric the half-bee
    April 1, 2009

    Clearly someone who needs to run his message through a couple of focus groups. :-)

  4. #4 Kobra
    April 1, 2009

    It’s so awesome to see Dawkins say it like it is. PZ does it all the time, but when Dawkins does it, it feels special.

  5. #5 Lana
    April 1, 2009

    It’s scary to think that any educated adult could say something so ignorant. It’s scarier that anyone listens to him.

  6. #6 MAJeff, OM
    April 1, 2009

    I tend to favor a combination of all of the above.

    DING! DING! DING!

    Don’t forget that he’s also a bigot.

  7. #7 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 1, 2009

    It’s scary to think that any educated adult could say something so ignorant. It’s scarier that anyone listens to him.

    The Pope or Dawkins?

  8. #8 Eric the half-bee
    April 1, 2009

    It’s not that the Pope is stupid. It’s why he’s stupid. It’s not that he can’t reason, it’s that he’s reasoning around something he can’t reason through. Given the other stuff he believes, his stand on condoms makes perfect sense. They do “make the situation worse,” when you understand that for him a baby dying of AIDS is not as bad as people having sex while paying no price whatsoever.

  9. #9 Free Lunch
    April 1, 2009

    foolish <–> wise

    ignorant <–> informed

    evil <–> good

    stupid <–> smart

    Why does the Pope seem to be on the wrong side of each one?

  10. #10 Kobra
    April 1, 2009

    @7: Pope Nazinger, obviously.

  11. #11 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    Well, what do you call the excommunication of all the people involved in the abortion of a girl that was raped? Perhaps that would fit into the category of “evil.”

  12. #12 ice9
    April 1, 2009

    Can’t be. Too many people believe what the Pope says, and some of believe it not just because they have to. Therefore Dawkins is wrong.

    By the way, I too love it when Dawkins says things like that, and not just because he’s bold. I do it because he’s versatile enough to enrage all of Oklahoma AND do this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX7TSWStfVs

    the Pope can’t even get close.

    ice

  13. #13 Bob Williams
    April 1, 2009

    No one seems to be picking up on the ubiquity of this pope’s inability to say or do anything intelligent. Among a pretty hopeless group of nullities, Benny the Rat stands out.

  14. #14 Royce Bitzer
    April 1, 2009

    Out of curiosity, I clicked on Kobra’s link in comment #4 and to my surprise found this:

    “Access to this domain or directory, kobrascorner.com, has been suspended due to a reported violation of UN Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/10/L.. Combating Defamation of Religions. Reasons for this suspension include:

    Defamation of Christianity, especially of the Roman Catholic Church.
    Defamation of Islam.
    Stereotyping Islamic culture.
    Defamation of Scientology.
    Defamation of Judaism.

    “We 47 member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council strongly condemn defamation of religion as a human rights violation. An investigation is in progress to determine the validity of these reported international crimes.
    “We apologize for any inconvenience.”

    “This domain or directory has been blocked since 1 April 2009.”

    What’s this all about? As PZ said, I’m wary of anything posted on April 1, but nevertheless this makes me very uneasy.

  15. #15 ice9
    April 1, 2009

    by the way, in the clip above (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX7TSWStfVs)second episode (at about 1:28), that’s Ratzinger (24)–note that as Dawkins approaches, Ratzinger knows what’s going to happen and backs out. As usual, no help at all.

    ice

  16. #16 AdamK
    April 1, 2009

    Kobra’s having a little fun there.

  17. #17 schism
    April 1, 2009

    I tend to favor a combination of all of the above.

    Evil is a combination of the above.

  18. #18 Kobra
    April 1, 2009

    @14: Happy April Fool’s Day!

    Click the date at the bottom to actually access my website. :P

  19. #19 aiabx
    April 1, 2009

    Stupid, ignorant and evil is no way to go through life, son.

  20. #20 Richard Dawkins
    April 1, 2009

    I PROTEST. I have been misreported, traduced. I did NOT say the Pope is “stupid, ignorant or dim”. I said he is “stupid, ignorant or WICKED.” Why can’t these people get things right?

    Richard

  21. #21 c-law
    April 1, 2009

    Clearly, the Pope’s speeches are not intelligently designed.

  22. #22 Butter
    April 1, 2009

    Richard:

    Yeah, I was kind of wondering what the distinction was between stupid and dim. Your lists are usually more precise than that.

  23. #23 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    @#18 schism
    “Evil is a combination of the above.”
    No, it is not. The combination of the above is just stupidity, which is not necessarily evil. Evil implies not only incompetence, but outright malice.

  24. #24 Greg Peterson
    April 1, 2009

    Rabies. A dog that could have been intelligent and loyal, empathetic and of service to humankinds, had its brain high-jacked by a corrupting virus, and now it’s just a son of a bitch.

    We don’t call a rabid dog evil, necessarily, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous and out of control.

  25. #25 Royce Bitzer
    April 1, 2009

    Re: #14, #16, #17: This is one time I’m happy to have been fooled (rather than this having been something real!) Good one, Kobra!

  26. #26 Kobra
    April 1, 2009

    @25: *bows*
    @20: Oh snap!

  27. #27 Cliff Hendroval
    April 1, 2009

    Last year, he announced his intention to write a book warning children of the dangers in believing what he called “anti-scientific” fairytales, including Harry Potter.

    I don’t read RD’s blog (there are only so many I can read in a day), so I don’t know what’s up with this. I’m curious what kind of book RD has in the works; it’s just like the Torygraph to say that he’s such a big meanie that he’s picking on Harry Potter.

  28. #28 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    @20 Richard Dawkins
    Perhaps the reporter did not understand Spanish very well – that is, if you were speaking in Spanish.

  29. #29 Pascalle
    April 1, 2009

    I actually blinked more at another comment in that article.
    About the new book he’s going to write, warning children about the anti scientific tendencies nowadays “like Harry Potter”.

    This just sounds odd to me.. Harry potter is a book for amusement, you could just as well tell children to not read any fairytales anymore because they are unscientific.

  30. #30 ???
    April 1, 2009

    Teh frackin’ cracker shall have its revenge on Dick to the Dawk to the PhD (smarter than you, got a science degree).

  31. #31 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    “‘About the new book he’s going to write, warning children about the anti scientific tendencies nowadays “like Harry Potter”‘.

    This just sounds odd to me.. Harry potter is a book for amusement, you could just as well tell children to not read any fairytales anymore because they are unscientific.”

    It sounds odd to me too. Just how many children really believe in Harry Potter anyways? Not enough to be important, and likely not enough to merit a book on it.

  32. #32 Kobra
    April 1, 2009

    @31: Wiping shit is evil?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825.html

    ^ Washington Post also has this article, for those of us who don’t want to read “Life Site News.”

  33. #33 catgirl
    April 1, 2009

    I don’t the Pope is stupid at all. I think he’s just plain evil, and smart enough to know how to use his power to push his evil onto others.

  34. #34 Morsky
    April 1, 2009

    There’s that saying about never attributing to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity, but in this case I imagine both stupidity and malice played a part.

    The Harry Potter thing had me puzzled, though. I imagine the number of kids who come away from it with a belief in witchcraft is miniscule, even nonexistent. Reminds me of the fundy paranoia: “Today they’re mumblin’ petrificus totalus, tomorrow they’ll be having depraved gay orgies on top of a ritually slaughtered goat carcass! BURN THEM BOOKS!”. Then again, given the source of the article, I imagine it’s a misattribution/misinterpretation of a perfectly legit project.

  35. #35 Pascalle
    April 1, 2009

    I have to quote correctly though.
    [quote]
    “Last year, he announced his intention to write a book warning children of the dangers in believing what he called “anti-scientific” fairytales, including Harry Potter.”
    [/quote]

    I think it just goes a bit far.

  36. #36 John H
    April 1, 2009

    Pope Darth Nazinger is undoubtably evil. Anyone who participated in the active cover-up of decades of child abuse within their organisation is by definition evil in my eyes.
    The comments about condoms have just reenforced my views. If I was allowed to use the c u next tuesday word on this site, I would call him that.

  37. #37 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    @#35 Morsky
    “There’s that saying about never attributing to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity, but in this case I imagine both stupidity and malice played a part.”
    With the pope, almost everything can be attributed to malice, and only a little to stupidity.

  38. #38 Richard Dawkins
    April 1, 2009

    “‘About the new book he’s going to write, warning children about the anti scientific tendencies nowadays “like Harry Potter”‘.
    This just sounds odd to me.. Harry potter is a book for amusement, you could just as well tell children to not read any fairytales anymore because they are unscientific.”
    It sounds odd to me too. Just how many children really believe in Harry Potter anyways? Not enough to be important, and likely not enough to merit a book on it.

    That’s a lie, as I explained at the time. I never mentioned Harry Potter, have never read Harry Potter, have not the smallest interest in Harry Potter, one way or the other. I said I thought it would be interesting to do RESEARCH on whether Fairy Tales (I had Hans Andersen and the Grimms in mind, Harry Potter never occurred to me) had any effect on the tendency of children to believe in the supernatural. This was twisted in two ways. First, my request for research was twisted into a statement that I was AGAINST fairy tales. And, second, “fairy tales” was twisted into “Harry Potter”. Thus I was misrepresented as attacking Harry Potter.

    Good old Daily Telegraph.

  39. #39 Guy Incognito
    April 1, 2009

    Damn, I just lost a bet with myself. I figured it would take less than 30 comments before somebody linked to an article quoting Edward C. Green.

  40. #40 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    “Thus I was misrepresented as attacking Harry Potter.
    Good old Daily Telegraph.”
    Wow. Can’t trust the telegraph, eh?

  41. #41 Facile Princeps
    April 1, 2009

    A-ha . I knew the pope was onto something. The Harvard experts seem to support him.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825.html
    “One reason is “risk compensation.” That is, when people think they’re made safe by using condoms at least some of the time, they actually engage in riskier sex.
    ………..
    So what has worked in Africa? Strategies that break up these multiple and concurrent sexual networks — or, in plain language, faithful mutual monogamy or at least reduction in numbers of partners, especially concurrent ones. “Closed” or faithful polygamy can work as well. ”
    That is what happens when Dawkins steps out of his expertise as an evolutionary biologist. But I’m sure all the Dawkins fans will believe him.
    Pretty soon I’m sure they will try to censor proponents of abstinence and prevent teaching people the “strengths and weaknesses” of condom usage and engaging in illicit sex.

  42. #42 Pascalle
    April 1, 2009

    Thank you Mister Dawkins for setting me straight :)

    I must say that it’s a relief to be honest, as i’m a pretty big HP fan but also admire you in how vocal you are about atheïsm and evolution.

    pfew!

    On another note.. i read the books of Grimm, Anderson and a lot of other cultural fairytales next to a children’s bible when i was little. My mother presented them all to me as books with pretty stories that could have morals and life lessons in them.

  43. #43 Kobra
    April 1, 2009

    The problem with the Pope’s statements, and Green’s commentary, is that there’s a logical gap that they’re ignoring.

    The Pope is saying the condoms are the problem.
    Green is citing that the condoms alone are not enough to solve the problem, then trying to use that to say, “The Pope is right.”

    Condoms plus education is how to address the AIDS epidemic. You can’t just say, “Have some condoms!” and expect it to go away.

    Elementary logic isn’t that hard, guys.

  44. #44 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    @#42 Facile Princeps
    What the hell was that?

    “Strategies that break up these multiple and concurrent sexual networks — or, in plain language, faithful mutual monogamy or at least reduction in numbers of partners, especially concurrent ones.”

    Insensitivity to the diversity of the situation in Africa will not work.

    Are you serious?

    @#40 Guy Incognito
    Well, it took about 12 most posts before that happened.

  45. #45 daveau
    April 1, 2009

    I’m not coming out in favor of da Pope, but just imagine what kind of indoctrination he would have to overcome in order to reach a rational conclusion. His evil or wickedness is unintentional; he really believes that you can go to heaven if you die of AIDS, but that you will rot in hell if you use a condom.

    Absolutely ridiculous. And, fuck the Roman Catholic Church.

  46. #46 Mike in Ontario, NY
    April 1, 2009

    This leads into another discussion about instructing people on the proper used of condoms. Teaching people not to use condoms more than once is a chronic issue for people trying to stop/prevent the spread of AIDS.

  47. #47 MAJeff, OM
    April 1, 2009

    This leads into another discussion about instructing people on the proper used of condoms.

    Exactly. That used to be part of one of my jobs. Even the other day I had to tell someone “baby oil should NOT be used with latex condoms!”

    And don’t open the damned wrappers with your teeth!

  48. #48 CalGeorge
    April 1, 2009

    Headlines should read:

    Pope advocates killing people with AIDS to stop conception-preventing condom use.

    He’s quickly climbing into the ranks of the worst Popes ever.

    Which is hard to do, given all the nasty things that the other Popes have done.

    http://www.ftarchives.net/foote/crimes/c7.htm

  49. #49 Newfie
    April 1, 2009

    I said I thought it would be interesting to do RESEARCH on whether Fairy Tales had any effect on the tendency of children to believe in the supernatural.

    I wouldn’t think so, if they are just presented as stories to children. Religion, UFOs, Paranormal, Pseudoscience, Big Foot, Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster are presented as real in parts of society, or are reported as real by otherwise trustworthy people.

  50. #50 Vic
    April 1, 2009

    He is right, the Pope is an idiot; and a loud mouth one at that. The new AI, Arrogant and Ignorant, is not a winning combination.

  51. #51 gingivitis
    April 1, 2009

    I must defend him. He is no worse than the other religious fanatic “leaders.”

  52. #52 aratina
    April 1, 2009

    I tried to post a long hyperlink-filled look at Edward Green on The pope is an evil quack thread, but it was sent into moderation and was probably wiped. The stark fact is that Green, an anthropologist, has long been buddy-buddy with the conservative Christian leaders including Rick Warren and the pope. He is similar to the former atheists or former gays in that he claims to have been a former condom supporter but has ‘seen the light’ and moved on to abstinence-only with a heavy dose of conspiracy theorist toward condom distribution.

    The bottom line is that the pope lied about condoms and Green wants to twist the pope’s words into something the pope did not say. Green flaunts research that shows that condoms by themselves do nothing to stop HIV transmission–people have to put them on for them to work. Well, duh! The pope said nothing about behavior, though. He attacked the efficacy of condoms which can be proven to block HIV with a simple test: fill the condom with water and if it doesn’t leak it is HIV-proof.

    Simon and other Catholics who find an apologist in Green may want to look more closely at this guy’s words:

    Faithful mutual monogamy or at least reduction in numbers of partners, especially concurrent ones. “Closed” or faithful polygamy can work as well. – Green, Washington Post, March 29, 2009

    Polygamy? Closed sexual groups? Once again, Simon and his Catholic cohorts come off as pervs. Everyone else should consider that Green’s “mutual fidelity” is a preventive measure while proper condom usage is a protective measure against HIV infection.

  53. #53 Tualha
    April 1, 2009

    Um, well, to be a bit more nuanced…

    At the risk of belaboring the obvious, I would say the explanation is that the pope has a conservative, religious worldview, which leads to his insistence on abstinence and monogamy as the only legitimate means to control STDs, and is either naive enough to think this is practical, or simply doesn’t care what happens to those who break the rules. Given the church’s conduct in the Brazilian abortion issue, I’m inclined toward the latter hypothesis.

  54. #54 Kobra
    April 1, 2009

    He attacked the efficacy of condoms which can be proven to block HIV with a simple test: fill the condom with water and if it doesn’t leak it is HIV-proof.

    This statement lacks an implied piece of evidence, which I will supply for you: HIV viruses are larger than water molecules.

    You’re welcome.

  55. #55 Vic
    April 1, 2009

    As with the fairy tale research, Richard is right to seek some research into this. I’ve always wondered about it myself.

    Truthfully, I think it will be a diametrically opposed correlation. I think learning about fiction teaches you how to recognize it when you see it (like the bulk of Bible stories, obviously). Atheists are traditionally huge fans of science fiction, a branch of fiction that very much allows for the questioning of authority.

    Perhaps they are just examples that stick out in my mind, but many of the deeply Christian people I have talked to have no tolerance for fiction; the very concept of examining different possibilities in the world almost seems to upset them. I remember one individual in particular that flew into a rage when I mentioned Planet of the Apes (and not for any of the perfectly valid reasons). He became spitting made at the movies very existence. Star Wars really upset Christians in the 70′s, Harry Potter met with book burnings.

  56. #56 mr.ed
    April 1, 2009

    One look into those sleepy eyes should tell you all you need to know. There’s no “there” there.

  57. #57 Michelle
    April 1, 2009

    Re: the Harry Potter thing…

    Good to know that HP isn’t under imminent attack from the intellectuals and rational humanists! It’s bad enough that this set of innocent fiction/fantasy books are regularly burned in demonstrations by Christian nutbags.

    You see, I’m a Harry Potter fan. The books were good; the fandom is better. I’m one of those geeks who go to conventions. (Yes, mock me all you want, but they’re FUN.) So, last summer’s convention was scheduled at the same major hotel as… *drumroll*… a southern Baptist chorus convention. OH LAWDY JEEZUZ! So, not only did we get to listen to random outbursts of Christian music whenever the demonic Potter fans walked by wearing their house scarves and ties, but some of the Potter convention attendees actually got the brunt end of their preaching. My favorite example (and you’ll like this):

    A Hufflepuff girl (HG) went outside to grab a smoke between panels. Two of the Bible Ladies were out there, also puffing away like chimneys. So Bible Ladies (BL) cornered this apparently helpless Hufflepuff and tried to interrogate her about the evil demonic Potter books.

    BL: Aren’t you people all witches?
    HG: What? No.
    BL: Then why do you read those books? They’re evil and teach kids witchcraft.
    HG: That’s stupid. Haven’t you ever read the books?
    BL: OF COURSE NOT! We would never read something so horrible.
    HG: Huh. Well, I haven’t read your book either.

    I wish I’d been there for the conversation. I would have added:
    “At least we know our books are FICTION.”
    And that’s the thing about the Potter books – they’re so clearly fiction, but the cause-effect plot scenarios you get in the books aren’t based in the same sort of God-magic you see in a lot of fairy tales. Instead, you see good guys getting hurt because of bad decisions, and the values of honesty, teamwork, and effort paying off. Sure, the setting is based in magic, but the magic has rules, and there’s never a case where a God-like magic figure swoops in and makes things better. No prince on a white horse, no fairy godmother (just an animagus godfather who is running from the law and tends to make things worse because he’s so hot-headed). In fact, one of the points made very early on in the books, and reinforced several times, is that the only things that matter in life are the decisions you make here and now.

    I’d rather give that to a kid to read than the Bible.

  58. #58 Kobra
    April 1, 2009

    The books were good; the fandom is better. I’m one of those geeks who go to conventions. (Yes, mock me all you want, but they’re FUN.)

    You just gave me a flashback to my days of trolling furries on 4chan.

  59. #59 NoAstronomer
    April 1, 2009

    Mr Dawkins said

    Why can’t these people get things right?

    Because they’re also stupid, ignorant or wicked?

  60. #60 bunnycatch3r
    April 1, 2009

    Was he employing British understatement?

  61. #61 aratina
    April 1, 2009

    Thanks Kobra :) I am still surprised at how many people don’t know that in the U.S.

    Just a thought: Green and Nisbet, what’s the difference?

  62. #62 Michelle
    April 1, 2009

    Re: the Harry Potter thing…

    Good to know that HP isn’t under imminent attack from the intellectuals and rational humanists! It’s bad enough that this set of innocent fiction/fantasy books are regularly burned in demonstrations by Christian nutbags.

    You see, I’m a Harry Potter fan. The books were good; the fandom is better. I’m one of those geeks who go to conventions. (Yes, mock me all you want, but they’re FUN.) So, last summer’s convention was scheduled at the same major hotel as… *drumroll*… a southern Baptist chorus convention. OH LAWDY JEEZUZ! So, not only did we get to listen to random outbursts of Christian music whenever the demonic Potter fans walked by wearing their house scarves and ties, but some of the Potter convention attendees actually got the brunt end of their preaching. My favorite example (and you’ll like this):

    A Hufflepuff girl (HG) went outside to grab a smoke between panels. Two of the Bible Ladies were out there, also puffing away like chimneys. So Bible Ladies (BL) cornered this apparently helpless Hufflepuff and tried to interrogate her about the evil demonic Potter books.

    BL: Aren’t you people all witches?
    HG: What? No.
    BL: Then why do you read those books? They’re evil and teach kids witchcraft.
    HG: That’s stupid. Haven’t you ever read the books?
    BL: OF COURSE NOT! We would never read something so horrible.
    HG: Huh. Well, I haven’t read your book either.

    I wish I’d been there for the conversation. I would have added:
    “At least we know our books are FICTION.”
    And that’s the thing about the Potter books – they’re so clearly fiction, but the cause-effect plot scenarios you get in the books aren’t based in the same sort of God-magic you see in a lot of fairy tales. Instead, you see good guys getting hurt because of bad decisions, and the values of honesty, teamwork, and effort paying off. Sure, the setting is based in magic, but the magic has rules, and there’s never a case where a God-like magic figure swoops in and makes things better. No prince on a white horse, no fairy godmother (just an animagus godfather who is running from the law and tends to make things worse because he’s so hot-headed). In fact, one of the points made very early on in the books, and reinforced several times, is that the only things that matter in life are the decisions you make here and now.

    I’d rather give that to a kid to read than the Bible.

  63. #63 Michelle
    April 1, 2009

    Sorry about the double-post. My computer froze up and told me that the submission didn’t go through, so I tried it again. My bad.

  64. #64 Steve_C
    April 1, 2009

    Wasn’t simon banned?

    Don’t ever post a link from NRO again.

  65. #65 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    @#58 Michelle
    “Sure, the setting is based in magic, but the magic has rules, and there’s never a case where a God-like magic figure swoops in and makes things better.”
    Indeed, perhaps one of the most important things to note is the values that they teach. Harry Potter at least teaches human potential – as for the Bible… I don’t know.

  66. #66 Steve_C
    April 1, 2009

    Green also said this…

    Don’t misunderstand me; I am not anti-condom. All people should have full access to condoms, and condoms should always be a backup strategy for those who will not or cannot remain in a mutually faithful relationship. This was a key point in a 2004 “consensus statement” published and endorsed by some 150 global AIDS experts, including representatives the United Nations, World Health Organization and World Bank.

  67. #67 Pi Guy
    April 1, 2009

    @ Facil(is)e Princeps:

    How are YOU “easily the First Citizen”?

    Troll.

  68. #68 Roy Sablosky
    April 1, 2009

    The Pope is saying to himself, “What an awesomely great business I’m in. Even if I deliberately kill off some of my customers, the surviving ones still adore me.”

  69. #69 The Petey
    April 1, 2009

    Pope Palpatine????
    EVIL????
    NOOOOOOOOO

  70. #70 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    @#67 Pi Guy
    Are you sure that Facilis is not serious?

  71. #71 Chiaroscuro
    April 1, 2009

    You people cant see what really its happening here, The Catholic church has finally given up, so they have choose Ratzinger to give the final blow to this sick, agonizing religion. The idea is to make Ratzinger say such stupid things that remaining catholics will only have the option of abandoning their faith, after that bringing down the christian megachurches will be an easy work.

    So sad African people have to suffer to get this plan ahead.

  72. #72 Valis
    April 1, 2009

    This leads into another discussion about instructing people on the proper used of condoms.

    That reminds me of a campaign run by the South African government a little while ago; They were handing out millions of free condoms to people, each with a small pamphlet attached explaining their proper use to prevent the transmission of STDs. The condoms were stapled to the pamphlets. True story…

  73. #73 Tualha
    April 1, 2009

    Re #31:

    Interesting. According to the Wikipedia article on Green, he claims that empirical data support the pope’s view; that safe-sex-based programs had been less successful than monogamy-based ones. Has anyone examined this claim? There’s some commentary in this Times article, but I don’t see anything terribly reliable.

    Skimming his CV, I see his doctorate is from Catholic University of America, and he has received funding for several years from the Templeton Foundation, which casts some doubt on the Wikipedia article’s unsupported claim that he’s agnostic.

    I see #52 has some unsupported opinions about Green. Care to support them, aratina?

  74. #74 aratina
    April 1, 2009

    Steve_C, by virtue of having to say that he is not anti-condom, Green has shown that he knows what he is saying is anti-condom. It’s like Rick Warren saying that he loves gays after comparing gay relationships to incest.

  75. #75 Kemist
    April 1, 2009

    In fact, one of the points made very early on in the books, and reinforced several times, is that the only things that matter in life are the decisions you make here and now.

    I also like the fact that most of the characters are way more complicated than what you find in most children (and many adult) stories. Some of the previously “evil” characters (Snape, for example) turn out to be, deep down, good.

    The lessons in those books (that what’s important is what you do now, not what you are and what you’ve done in the past, that you shouldn’t judge people too fast, that it’s ok to accept help from friends) are deeply moral. Way more than what you find in fairy tales or the Bible for that matter. I’d rather have a person for which those are important values as a neighbor than one who follows biblical “morals” any day. Long live witches (if it’s how they insist on calling us)!

  76. #76 SiMoN
    April 1, 2009

    #53
    Faithful mutual monogamy or at least reduction in numbers of partners, especially concurrent ones. “Closed” or faithful polygamy can work as well. – Green, Washington Post, March 29, 2009

    Faithful mutual monogamy is the ideal, thus a true moral teaching which always taught by the Catholic Church.
    Do you expect perfect family life ?

    For people who seek Good, they put the ideal teaching as their goal.

    why do you need a condom ? ask yourself.
    If you are an HIV victim, you are free to use condom, but the Church will never teach that as it is not an ideal teaching. The teachings should be a guidance to make a human perfect.

    I think PZM family is good example, he has a wife, monogamy, faithful. Why does he need a condom ???

  77. #77 SLC
    April 1, 2009

    Re Dawkins

    Dr. Dawkins left out insane and the indication that he really didn’t want to consider wicked.

  78. #78 junco
    April 1, 2009

    I realize this thread has gone a little off topic, but thought I would add my 2 cents. I think research into fairy tales and their “effects” (if such a thing could be measured) would be very interesting. I think that exposure to fiction, (when represented as such) gives the mind flexibility, enhances imagination, and encourages creative thought. These are good things for scientists, (and other endeavors) and usually bad for dogmatists. Fundamentalists are so often coming out against anything which “threatens” their iron clad, unquestionable beliefs, whether it be music, movies, books, theater productions, science issues, etc.
    Anecdotally, I remember reading greek mythology in elementary school, along with native american mythology and fairy tales. These weren’t represented as anything other than fiction, and they were fascinating. Religion wasn’t nearly as appealing, because the bible stories were indistinguishable from mythology, but people earnestly BELIEVED them, and that always creeped me out.

  79. #79 Steve_C
    April 1, 2009

    Aratina. If you actually read what he wrote in the Washington Post the problem is much more complex than Africans just need to use condoms.

    We know the Pope would never support the use of condoms or birth control.

    But Green’s point is that in some areas just condom distribution is not enough.

    Green is a supporter of condom usage.

  80. #80 aratina cage
    April 1, 2009

    Tualha, #52 would be me. The Washington Post article written by Green does a pretty good job of backing up my opinion of him. In it, he dismisses UN work against the abstinence-only crowd saying that the higher ups “quietly disowned the study” showing condoms did not work as primary preventive measures in Africa. In other words, he thinks there is a conspiracy in the UN to suppress evidence. Then read what I wrote in #74–this man obviously has moved on from science-based evidence to faith in a Christian-based utopia. Next, you can google his name with PEPFAR and you will see him in all his glory sucking up to Saddleback and other right-wing organizations.

    But mostly, this guy came out of nowhere to support the pope in all his extremism. There are two ways to look at this: 1) Green had been looking for an opening to get his views into the mainstream media or 2) Green has a conservative Christian agenda and needed to shield it from the global criticism it rightly received.

  81. #81 Stephen Wells
    April 1, 2009

    I think SiMON just asked the stupidest question ever asked on Pharyngula. It’s impressive, in a weirdly inverted way.

  82. #82 Kemist
    April 1, 2009

    For people who seek Good, they put the ideal teaching as their goal.

    Humans have a certain nature. They typically and statistically act a certain way, no matter what. But let’s continue teaching abstinence, because it is “Good”.

    So an ideal is more important than human lives.

    Where did we see that again ?

  83. #83 Free Lunch
    April 1, 2009

    Ratzinger, Stalin, Mao can anyone tell the difference?

  84. #84 Zeno
    April 1, 2009

    I vote for “ignorant” myself, but this requires qualification. How can I call someone ignorant who is a widely read and published scholar in his field? Well, that’s a part of it, isn’t it? The pope believes his field embraces the whole universe, as if theology is the ultimate, all-encompassing science. That notion is fixed in his head. It blinds him to other possibilities.

    This morning on Catholic Radio I heard an apologist address a passage in the gospel of Luke (chapter 2, verse 52): “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” But church dogma proclaims that Jesus was himself God and therefore perfect, so how could the child Jesus “grow in wisdom”? If you’ve decided a priori that the Bible is perfect, error-free, and to be believed in every single instance, the apparent contradiction must be explained away. Therefore the apologist said that Jesus was always perfect and all-knowing, but his perfection “expanded” into new areas. Like what? Carpentry? But the apologist was smugly satisfied that he had addressed and dismissed the difficulty so successfully.

    I’m sure Benny Hex can do this without even breaking a sweat.

  85. #85 aratina
    April 1, 2009

    Steve_C, how is what Green said about condoms any different than what New Scientist said about Darwin? The pope et al. are not going to read past the headline: “The pope is right about condoms says AIDS expert Dr. Green.” Just look at Simon up-thread before he gets wiped again, he completely misses the details. And all I can say is “Sure… Sure he is.” to the assertion that Green is not anti-condom.

  86. #86 raven
    April 1, 2009

    Fundamentalists are so often coming out against anything which “threatens” their iron clad, unquestionable beliefs, whether it be music, movies, books, theater productions, science issues, etc.

    Fundies can be amazingly evil. One of their more amusing hobbies is book burning. IMO, they don’t do it enough. IIRC, when the Harry Potter books first became popular, there were several public book burnings around the USA.

  87. #87 bootsy
    April 1, 2009

    @48 CalGeorge: Very well said! “Pope advocates killing people with AIDS to stop conception-preventing condom use”

    You have clearly defined what the Pope is up to if he fits the last item on Dr. Dawkins’ (real) list.

    If that’s not what’s happening, we’re supposed to believe that someone who rose to the head of a multi-billion dollar worldwide corporation, and leads a wealthy life in a Western European country, has not learned that condoms work nearly 100% in preventing HIV transmission. A fact that has been well-known for at least 25 years.

  88. #88 Norman Doering
    April 1, 2009

    SiMoN wrote:

    Faithful mutual monogamy is the ideal,

    Say’s who? It’s not my ideal. It may be your ideal but you have no right to dictate that onto me.

    … a true moral teaching which always taught by the Catholic Church.

    So, the church is only willing to help those who adopt their ideals? Someone else then will have to help those who don’t.

  89. #89 Greg Peterson
    April 1, 2009

    I sincerely hope Richard leaves Harry Potter alone. I have no use whatever for those books, but I am a tremendously big fan of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy (“Golden Compass,” etc.), which are atheist-friendly, but contain “unscientific” things like flying witches and talking polar bears. I don’t know how it would be possible to draw bright-line distinctions between, say, the actual science that informs some of author Madeline L’Engle’s books (“A Wrinkle in Time”)in the service of a pro-superstition book versus the wild flights of mythological fancy Pullman goes on in service of rational humanism. With so many actual giants and monsters to slay, perhaps we could give the windmills a rest.

  90. #90 AJ Milne
    April 1, 2009

    I sincerely hope Richard leaves Harry Potter alone.

    Repeating: the article is extremely misleading as to Dr. Dawkins’ intentions. See Comment 38.

    And to Dr. Dawkins and all others who have done so: thank you immensely for calling Ratzinger on his BS, here.

  91. #91 fcaccin
    April 1, 2009

    My humble opinion is that Mr. Ratzinger is only guilty of consistency, much more so than his immediate predecessor (not that I liked John Paul II either, but they made such a circus show of his slow and painful dying I felt genuinely sorry for him). That is, the pope is meant to defend the creed. If truth, ethics and logic are harmful to it, he must sidestep them. As You cannot have a blind pilot, You cannot have a good pope. To me, such a conclusion is inescapable.
    I did not read all the other comments, so sorry if someone else said the same.

  92. #92 Muffin
    April 1, 2009

    I take issue with Richard’s statement as well. The pope is NOT “either stupid, ignorant or wicked”; he’s stupid, ignorant AND wicked.

  93. #93 cpsmith
    April 1, 2009

    Bad pope! No biscuit!

  94. #94 Tualha
    April 1, 2009

    Hmm, well, let’s see. In his Washington Post letter, Green restricts his comments to the African situation, and explains why. He cites a paper by Hearst and Chen, and gives us a general idea where to find it. He claims, without elaboration, that UNAIDS tried to suppress that paper.

    He also says that articles in peer-reviewed journals (Lancet, Science, BMJ) confirm that condoms haven’t worked well in African AIDS prevention. He cites the Science paper, but not the others. I can’t get to the Science paper right now, not being a subscriber. Perhaps someone else here can? Surely there are a few professional scientists contributing to this thread? PZ, you must have a Science subscription.

    He goes on to say that condoms have worked better in other places where the circumstances are different. He explains why condoms haven’t worked well in Africa: open polygamous networks, a perception that condom use = mistrust, and a tendency to engage in riskier behavior (I think he means that people who are using condoms some of the time will then do risky things without condoms). He claims that efforts to break up these open polygamous networks into either monogamous pairs or close polygamous groups have worked well in Uganda.

    He concludes by saying that condoms should be available to all, and should be used by those unwilling to stick to monogamous relationships.

    So, what do I take from this? It would be nice if he had cited his sources more, but it is a letter to the Washington Post, after all, not an article in Science. It would also be nice if he had given us data to help us evaluate his claim that UNAIDS had tried to suppress the Hearst/Chen paper. Overall, he doesn’t sound like a conservative christian to me. He sounds like a scientist who has some evidence we should examine.

    Aratina seems to think Green has an agenda. Aratina claims, without evidence, that Green is “buddy-buddy” with Rick Warren and the pope. Aratina seems to think that Green is a conspiracy theorist regarding the Hearst/Chen paper. Well, maybe. Hard to say, without knowing more about the paper. Aratina says to google for Green and PEPFAR, and we will see him sucking up to Saddleback. Funny, I couldn’t find that. Perhaps Aratina could help me out with an actual URL? Aratina says Green has come out of nowhere. Really? Did you look at all the publications on his CV? Nowhere?

    In the “quack” thread, Aratina cites a blog posting that lists some ten articles or presentations that Green has published in right-wing or religiously-aligned publications. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Until you look at Green’s CV, and see that these ten publications are a small minority out of several hundred publications, quite a few of them in peer-reviewed scientific journals. When theists and creationists pull that sort of stunt, we call it cherry-picking.

    Aratina appears to be full of shit.

  95. #95 aratina
    April 1, 2009

    Not full of shit, Tualha. I just have a good shit detector.

  96. #96 Tualha
    April 1, 2009

    Facts, aratina. Give us facts. This is a science blog.

  97. #97 CrypticLife
    April 1, 2009

    I think most of you may be misinterpreting the “attack” on fairy tales and Harry Potter. Dawkins calls for research on the effect of fairy tales on magical belief, but he does not imply he believes this will necessarily increase magical belief.

    Imagine, you tell a kid the seven little goats story, which essentially goes:
    1) 7 child goats are left alone in their cottage by their mother
    2) Wolf comes and impersonates mother by putting flour on his paws to make them white, and raising his voice
    3) Goats open door and promptly get eaten, except one
    4) Wolf falls asleep, mom comes home, little goat comes out of hiding and tells her what happened
    5) Mom and little goat perform impromptu surgery on Wolf while he sleeps with a sewing kit, cutting him open to release all the goats live and whole, then putting rocks in his stomach and sewing him up.
    6) Wolf wakes up, doesn’t realize anything’s happened, walks into a pond and sinks to the bottom, drowning.

    A lot of features of this story would stretch credulity even for fairly small children.

    Then you give them a religious story, say the Adam and Eve story with the talking snake and a magic apple.

    I’d think the previous exposure to clearly false fairy tales would lead towards classification of the Genesis story as a fairy tale.

  98. #98 Screechy Monkey
    April 1, 2009

    @45: “[the Pope] really believes that you can go to heaven if you die of AIDS, but that you will rot in hell if you use a condom. ”

    I wonder if he really does believe that, or if he’s one of those “sophisticated theologians” I hear so much about.

  99. #99 tim Rowledge
    April 1, 2009

    I wouldn’t want to put words in Dr.Dawkins’ mouth but surely the logical reason for wanting to investigate the effects on children of fairy tales would be to establish what metaphors and the like have most effect on the child’s beliefs. This would give us valuable information about which parts of the religious fairy tales most need combating.

  100. #100 aratina
    April 1, 2009

    Tualha, you are right that the Saddleback link doesn’t pop up on the top results of a google of Dr. Edward Green and PEPFAR, but the connection between him and the Christian right is still there. From one forum dedicated to the intersection of AIDS and religion in Africa in the search results, you would find this:

    Green and Ruark?s ?central fact? ? that churches across the board are combating the spread of the HIV virus ? is stated far too broadly. Here, Marshall and Keough are much more on target for stressing ?the extraordinary?. diversity of religions and the complexity of their roles in their work on HIV/AIDS.? And I believe that many, or even most, African church people involved in the struggle against AIDS would share my ambivalence about the role of churches in fighting AIDS. Green and Ruark dismiss Byamugisha as marginal and out of touch with the African religious mainstream, but in my experience, he is not alone in recognizing that the African church is divided and diverse in its relation to sexuality and HIV.

    I’m not saying Green is wrong about how behavioral changes may be more important in some areas than full-blown condom distribution, but I am saying that Green is willfully swelling the heads of right-wing Christians and perpetuating anti-condom myths. I don’t know why he is doing it, but I would call that an agenda worth fighting against. You seem to have missed all the signs of his agenda in his Washington Post article and in a googling of his name.

  101. #101 LCforevah
    April 1, 2009

    How does any study show that monogamy increases or gets practised at all? I would surmise that polygamous and extracuricular behavior merely goes underground and that people like Green are wishful thinking when they claim that programs encouraging monogamy actually experience any success. Witness the problem the rc church has with pedophilia. Ignoring it didn’t make it any less prevelant.

    You don’t get rid of cultural practises that have been in place for hundreds if not thousands of years with a series of health lectures, and to state that that is exactly what has happened shows an incredible ignorance of human behavior.

  102. #102 Alex
    April 1, 2009

    I’m sorry but I completely disagree with both Dawkins and PZ.

    Surely someone who wears such ridiculous ornate costumes garb and takes it seriously can not be evil or stupid. I mean, can they?

    I mean did you see his hats? That’s gotta mean he knows what he’s talking about!

  103. #103 Interrobang
    April 1, 2009

    There’s also the small problem — which nobody outside of explicitly feminist circles seems to want to talk about — that Africa, or at least many parts of it, has a very entrenched rape culture. I still can’t forget reading a news article where the headmistress of a girls’ school in Africa that was raided by a band of rapists said of the attack, “The boys didn’t mean any harm. They only wanted to rape.”

    Any culture that sees rape as harmless is not going to be able to entrench condom use for two reasons — the men feel entitled enough to sex to take it forcibly any time they want it, and the women are powerless enough not to be able to insist on condom usage. Any woman who does attempt to insist is likely to wind up raped. That’s aside from all the other cultural reasons slowing the adoption of prophylactic condom use in Africa.

  104. #104 Zar
    April 1, 2009

    I hope a house containing a young Judy Garland falls on Pope Palpatine and she steals his red shoes.

  105. #105 Free Lunch
    April 1, 2009

    I wonder if he really does believe that, or if he’s one of those “sophisticated theologians” I hear so much about.

    He really teaches something along those lines. I don’t care if he believes it or not. His teachings cause people to die (the Green article is sufficiently nuanced to show that the Pope is wrong in his conclusion). That makes him an immoral fool.

  106. #106 Screechy Monkey
    April 1, 2009

    Free Lunch, I agree. In fact, it’s even more immoral if he doesn’t believe this stuff but preaches it anyway. I was just musing about what is probably an unanswerable question (I doubt Ratzi is going to write a tell-all memoir).

  107. #107 Steve Caldwell
    April 1, 2009

    It’s very possible to teach effective condom use in a religious setting — the Unitarian Universalists and the United Church of Christ do it routinely in their churches with the “Our Whole Lives” lifespan sexuality education series:

    http://www.uua.org/religiouseducation/curricula/ourwhole/

    The OWL program was developed using the best available secular public health and health education guidelines

    The religious materials in the curricula are in a separate optional supplement (so it can be used in both religious and non-religious settings).

  108. #108 gma
    April 1, 2009

    Steven Weinberg said: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

    Benny Hex, as the head of the roman catholic pedophilia institute, is one of the most high-profile religious people.

    His criminal anti-condom statements should be held up as a prime example of what Steven Weinberg meant.

  109. #109 Tualha
    April 1, 2009

    #100:

    Hmm, you think that link proves that Green is involved with Saddleback? I see a fundamentalist christian site quoting Warren as saying that Green is a friend. That doesn’t make it true. I treat all claims on such sites and all claims from Warren and his ilk with extreme caution. And even if Warren and Green do have some acquaintance, it’s a big leap from that to say that Green is promoting a conservative christian agenda.

    I think Green has some evidence, and a view based on that evidence, that happen to serve the conservative christian agenda. And naturally, they are eagerly making use of that, quote-mining him and cherry-picking his evidence. I think Green’s agenda is much less sinister: he wants African communities to use the methods that have proved effective, so that AIDS infection rates will decline. It’s not his fault if the christians are misusing what he has to say. Really, what choice does he have? He calls it like he sees it, or he shuts up. If he shuts up, more people die, at least according to what his evidence tells him.

    Granted, he could repudiate those who are misusing his work. Maybe he hasn’t noticed them yet; he’s a busy man. Maybe he thinks it’s not worth his time, or they’re not worth responding to. Or maybe he will do so later this week.

  110. #110 Bill Dauphin
    April 1, 2009

    schism (@18):

    I tend to favor a combination of all of the above.

    Evil is a combination of the above.

    Indeed. In a similar vein, I was thinking responding to MAJeff (@6) that bigotry is “all of the above.”

  111. #111 Tim H
    April 1, 2009

    The Pope is either stupid, ignorant or wicked.

    To be stupid is to be incapable of thinking or being educated. Ratzinger has undoubtedly attended many educational institutions, and done well at them. It is highly unlikely he is stupid.

    To be ignorant is to lack information. Ratzinger shows a mastery of information when he chooses to. Given the informational resources available to him, if he is ignorant it is his own fault.

    To be wicked is to, when given a choice, choose a path that causes less good or more harm to the world. This would seem to be the correct answer. The fact that Ratzinger makes those choices because he uses faith rather than reason is irrelevent- he has chosen to use faith voluntarily and is capable of appreciating the differences between the two methods.

  112. #112 bugland
    April 1, 2009

    Evil? Yes. Stupid? No. By lying about contraception and abortion, he ensures that millions of children will grow up unwanted and in poverty. This is good for the Catholic Church, if not humanity, because chronic misery and lack of education make it all the more difficult for most people to break free from religion.

    Illiteracy? Good for the church.
    Starvation? Good for the church.
    Disease? Good for the church, and for his Unholiness.

  113. #113 Bill Dauphin
    April 1, 2009

    Professor Dawkins (@38):

    Good old Daily Telegraph

    Could be worse: You could’ve been interviewed by the Daily Prophet1!

    Seriously, thanks for the (several) clarifications regarding the text of the article… and thanks for everything you do, as well.

    I listened to the audio version of The God Delusion on a long overnight drive a couple summers ago. While you’ve received plenty of praise for the book itself, I think everyone should also know what an entertaining reader you are.

    1 Gratuitous Harry Potter reference; ask any child (or Michelle) to explain! ;^)

  114. #114 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    @#102 Alex
    “Surely someone who wears such ridiculous ornate costumes garb and takes it seriously can not be evil or stupid. I mean, can they?”
    Well, it might mean that they are not stupid, but it does mean that they are evil, if they take it seriously.

  115. #115 RickD
    April 1, 2009

    The revised quote is better, and the truth is that the Pope is probably a mix of all three.

  116. #116 www.10ch.org
    April 1, 2009

    @#76 SiMoN
    “Faithful mutual monogamy is the ideal”
    Says who?

    “a true moral teaching which always taught by the Catholic Church”
    So your delusions tell you that such a teaching is “true.” Fine, but to shove it on other people is nothing less than murderous, especially in Africa.

  117. #117 Ben
    April 1, 2009

    Harry Potter taught valuable lessons such that athletes and the rich (HP was both) can get away with anything.

    I think an interesting topic of research would be to look at Santa and religion. Santa is something of a god character with everyone telling you it is true on TV, at school, at the mall, and at home. At some point you find the presents in that attic or something and stop believing and they don’t think that the parents are just agents of God. Why don’t we think that Santa works in mysterious ways? Is Santa too well defined compared to God?

  118. #118 Kagehi
    April 1, 2009

    The logic behind, “change how people think, so you don’t need condoms”, is right up there with the logic of, “teach people proper evacuation techniques, so you don’t need so many fire exits”. Two problems arise: 1) Some percentage of people are never going to act as you want them to, and unless they do, all your “social engineering” is worthless. 2) In emotionally charged situations, like fires, or… sex, it doesn’t matter how well “trained” everyone is, half of them are going to try to climb over each other to get out the door (or in the case of sex, basically ignore all advice ever given). You can’t fight human nature with dogma or “ideals”. The only ideals that do work are ones that a) shape human response in a way that doesn’t **directly** conflict with what they normally do, or b) rearrange the system to fit the behavior, instead of the other way around. That is what Popes, right wing fanatics and dogmatists in general “fail” to grasp. They try to reshape behavior in a way that 90% of the people they try it on “can’t change”, in order to fit “people” to the system, instead the system to people. It simply doesn’t work.

  119. #119 Sarcastro
    April 1, 2009

    “Dim” is actually what I would go with.

    The man is not stupid or ignorant and evil/wicked is a conception from his ontology not mine. The Pope is, however, shortsighted, unethical and – most of all – unenlightened. Thus ‘dim’ captures the man to a T in three letters.

  120. #120 Norman Doering
    April 1, 2009

    aratina wrote:

    Green is willfully swelling the heads of right-wing Christians and perpetuating anti-condom myths.

    Right-wing Christians? Like this guy:
    http://www.kennethhynek.net/2009/03/20/how-about-that-turns-out-the-pope-had-it-right-about-condoms

    He includes a quote of Green:

    We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.?

    So notes Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, in response to papal press comments en route to Africa this week.

  121. #121 CalGeorge
    April 1, 2009

    “To be stupid is to be incapable of thinking or being educated. Ratzinger has undoubtedly attended many educational institutions, and done well at them. It is highly unlikely he is stupid.”

    stu·pid (stpd, sty-)
    adj. stu·pid·er, stu·pid·est
    1. Slow to learn or understand; obtuse.
    2. Tending to make poor decisions or careless mistakes.
    3. Marked by a lack of intelligence or care; foolish or careless: a stupid mistake.
    4. Dazed, stunned, or stupefied.
    5. Pointless; worthless: a stupid job.

    He’s still clinging to religion (1).
    He has made numerous poor decisions as Pope – including some egregious appointments (2).
    Condom remark was very careless (3).
    As someone said above, look into his eyes, there’s nothing there (4).
    He goes on and on about God – which is truly, truly pointless (5).

    He’s STUPID.

  122. #122 Sili
    April 1, 2009

    The popester most certainly isn’t wicked. Not Wicked at all.

    “Evil” fits much better in this case.

  123. #123 Drosera
    April 1, 2009

    Children should by all means read fairy tales. Then, when you tell them that the bible is one big fairy tale, they will understand immediately what you are talking about.

    It is only a small conceptual step from Jack and the Beanstalk to the story of the Tower of Babel, or from Little Red Riding Hood to Jesus. Even children, no, especially children, can see it is all bread from the same dough.

  124. #124 'Tis Himself
    April 1, 2009

    I said he is “stupid, ignorant or WICKED.”

    These conditions are not mutually exclusive.

  125. #125 Drosera
    April 1, 2009

    And the Pope’s real name is Rumpelstilzchen.

  126. #126 Ernesto García
    April 1, 2009

    Ben:

    Harry Potter taught valuable lessons such that athletes and the rich (HP was both) can get away with anything.

    HP enjoyed certain privileges during his Hogwarts years, but not because he was rich or an athlete but because he was famous (only known survivor of the AK curse), had rare powers and was BRAVE BEYOND BELIEF. He didn’t “got away with anything” either. For starters, he didn’t got away with telling the truth about Voldy’s return and sticking with it (Dolores Umbridge, anyone?)

    And yes, I *AM* a Harry Potter geek. :-D

  127. #127 Tulse
    April 1, 2009

    This rather rambling post also links Green to Warren — it claims Warren personally gave him a copy of his book.

  128. #128 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2009

    We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.”

    which, of course, totally ignores the reasons why it ISN’T working (which means Green should be ashamed to admit it, considering who he is), which in large part in many places in Africa is exactly because both this pope and the previous one made a stink about condoms, and destroyed much of the many years of groundwork that relief workers and others had done to try and dispel the common myths and stereotypes about condoms that many people in Africa had.

    correlation!=causation

    We know from direct experimentation that condoms are 90% effective in stopping HIV transmission.

    so obviously, it’s not the condoms that are to blame for the failures.

  129. #129 Tualha
    April 1, 2009

    #127:

    Well, wow. Green accepted a copy of Warren’s book. That’s a smoking gun, alright.

  130. #130 sioux laris
    April 1, 2009

    Did someone already ask this?

    Why “or” rather than “and”?

  131. #131 raven
    April 1, 2009

    Right-wing Christians? Like this guy:
    http://www.kennethhynek.net/2009/03/20/how-about-that-turns-out-the-pope-had-it-right-about-condoms

    He includes a quote of Green:

    We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.?
    So notes Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, in response to papal press comments en route to Africa this week.

    QUOTE MINE!!!!! QUOTE MINE!!!!

    This christofascist moron did what they always do, lie. In this case he quote mined Green.

    Green in the past has said condoms have a place in a comprehensive anti-AIDS strategy. This is pretty much the standard line. AIDS is a tough epidemic and one needs to do everything possible. Available HIV status testing, blood supply testing, perinatal antivirals, education, needle exchanges, behavior modification, condoms, early HAART in high endemic regions.

    The good news is that HIV can be beat back with all of these tactics. It’s been done in the USA, western Europe, and several third world countries.

    Green, the Harvard research scientist, and many public health specialists said that a comprehensive approach must be used to fight AIDS and that the most important part of the ABC approach probably is B — being faithful to one partner. [My note. The C stands for condom.]

    ?If we tell youth that if you use condoms, you will be safe, then we are actually fueling the epidemic,? said Vinand M. Nantulya, senior health adviser at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Nantulya, formerly a key adviser to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, said the key lesson from Uganda was ?that it wasn’t a choice between abstinence or condoms, but that it was everything. In Uganda, we promoted condoms in the context of if you stray, use a condom.?

    Hankins, the UNAIDS adviser, also argued for a combination of approaches to fight AIDS and said that each country, and areas inside countries, require tailored responses to the epidemic. She said condoms had a role everywhere. The key now, she said, was to teach correct ways to use them.

  132. #132 Snarla
    April 1, 2009

    Anyone who smokes in public is no Hufflepuff. Most likely a Slytherin, though perhaps a Ravenclaw.

  133. #133 raven
    April 1, 2009

    Green’s point is that tossing truckloads of condoms at a HIV epidemic in a place like South Africa isn’t going to help a whole lot. No one expects it too. It is better than nothing and needs to be combined with other tactics.

    The popes point is that because some other pope said that birth control is bad several centuries ago, it is better to avoid condoms, get AIDS, and die. A theory believed by a few celibate old males that almost no one pays any attention to. Got to wonder about a religion that puts arbitrary and stupid rules above keeping people alive and healthy. And dying of AIDS in Africa is far worse than just someone checking out early. They frequently leave a living spouse and some kids who may also have been infected before or during birth.

  134. #134 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2009

    This christofascist moron did what they always do, lie. In this case he quote mined Green.

    ah, fuck me.

    taken in by a quote mine.

    *hangs head*

  135. #135 Norman Doering
    April 1, 2009

    Ichthyic wrote:

    taken in by a quote mine.

    He got me too. The bastard.

  136. #136 Steve_C
    April 1, 2009

    Thanks Raven. I knew if NRO and Facilis were quoting a scientist they were dumbing it down and mining it.

  137. #137 eddie
    April 1, 2009

    This just in;

    http://brittonia.blogspot.com/2009/04/edward-green-fired-for-speaking-out.html

    They quote BBC so I looked deeper. What I got wasa BBC Norn Irn site’s blog;

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2009/03/aids_expert_who_defended_the_p.html

    which has an interview with Green. The money shot is “…our project was coming to an end, and actually has come to an end. We are running currently on a no-cost extension…” This in contrast to the brittonia Expelled guff.

  138. #138 eddie
    April 1, 2009

    Also, Instant Molly for Drosera @123

  139. #139 eddie
    April 1, 2009

    Info on Green’s templars funding source; (Note the end-date; feb 2009)

    http://www.templeton.org/funding_areas/show_profiles.asp?p=11874&b=2%7C59

    And, after Green’s “sterling” service in uganda, the ugandans have decided they’d rather have condoms instead;

    http://www.ugpulse.com/articles/daily/news.asp?about=More+condoms+for+Uganda&ID=9230 Good on them!

  140. #140 rockyou
    April 1, 2009

    You’re so blind. Religion is life long and passed down to new generation. Stop reading the lips and think about the morphology: more followers = more religion. Good job pope CEO.

  141. #141 Facile Princeps
    April 1, 2009

    which, of course, totally ignores the reasons why it ISN’T working (which means Green should be ashamed to admit it, considering who he is), which in large part in many places in Africa is exactly because both this pope and the previous one made a stink about condoms, and destroyed much of the many years of groundwork that relief workers and others had done to try and dispel the common myths and stereotypes about condoms that many people in Africa had.

    This is exactly what happens. Relief workers give out condoms. The people ignore everything the pope said about not having illicit sex and go have sex anyway , however the do remember the pope didn’t like condoms….
    What??
    Puhleeze if people had listened to the pope in the first place they would not be having sex at all.
    It is pathetic to watch you rationalize away the failures of condoms.

  142. #142 clinteas
    April 1, 2009

    We are letting Ratzinger off the hook too easily by suggesting he is stupid and/or ignorant.
    Far from it,this guy is highly intelligent,highly educated and knows exactly what he is saying.
    Maybe he is becoming a bit senile,but in saying what he said about condoms,and paganism in Africa etc,he is aware of the consequences and coolly calculates them into his agenda.
    Dont let him get away with excusing his comments with stupidity.
    Its pure catholic doctrine,coldly calculated and executed.

  143. #143 Lynna
    April 1, 2009

    Christian fundamentalists are afraid they’ll believe anything they read (and with good reason). That’s why fiction scares them. Harry Potter haunts them.

  144. #144 aratina
    April 1, 2009

    Tualha:

    It’s a big leap from that to say that Green is promoting a conservative christian agenda.

    Ya, I got carried away about Edward “Ted” Green when he started being bandied about by our resident trolls and random trolls, but please reflect a little longer on the title of his Washington Post article: The Pope May Be Right. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how that is not an indirect promotion of the pope’s agenda.

    I think Green has some evidence, and a view based on that evidence, that happen to serve the conservative christian agenda. And naturally, they are eagerly making use of that, quote-mining him and cherry-picking his evidence. I think Green’s agenda is much less sinister: he wants African communities to use the methods that have proved effective, so that AIDS infection rates will decline. It’s not his fault if the christians are misusing what he has to say. Really, what choice does he have? He calls it like he sees it, or he shuts up. If he shuts up, more people die, at least according to what his evidence tells him.

    You said I was full of shit earlier, but now your opinions count as the truth? That smells like a double standard.

    Granted, he could repudiate those who are misusing his work. Maybe he hasn’t noticed them yet; he’s a busy man. Maybe he thinks it’s not worth his time, or they’re not worth responding to. Or maybe he will do so later this week.

    Maybe. Or maybe he just lost his job and is using this as a carrot for an employer. Or maybe he has a book about it he wants to sell.

    Here are several links concerning Green that I found interesting. The first is a Southern Voice article from 2003 written by Green that complains about “condoms-only advocates” (link 1). The second is a post on an AIDS-focused blog that ends with this conspiracy-laden quote by Green (link 2):

    And if you want to know the real deal about condoms in Africa, rather than the corporate cheerleading (and I once was a major cheerleader myself) please read Hearst, Norman and Sanny Chen, Condom Promotion for AIDS Prevention in the Developing World: Is It Working? Studies In Family Planning 2004;35 [1]:39-47

    The third is from another blogger who basically was told he was full of shit, too, in the comment thread because he dared to question if there is more behind Green’s media blitz than just empirical evidence (link 3).

  145. #145 Steve_C
    April 1, 2009

    Wow. You jump to a lot of conclusions or accusations about Green just because he thinks that condoms are not necessarily solving the problem of aids in africa.

    He even states where condoms have worked. That the problem is very complex in Africa and that attitudes have to change there before condoms can be as effective in other parts of the world.

    You haven’t shown any evidence, other that Christian Conservatives quote mining him, that he has an agenda other than preventing the spread of HIV.

    I think the title of his article was a way to grab attention to the realities of fighting the spread of AIDS. He’s not endorsing the rejection of birth control. He’s endorsing a change in behavior.

    http://www.harvardaidsprp.org/faculty-staff/edward-c-green-bio.html

  146. #146 Rjaye
    April 1, 2009

    I think one of the problems is that these programs are run by outsider. Many Africans are leery of white folks coming in to tell them how to live their lives “right,” and we know how some of that turned out.

    What should be happening is that only the best scientific information should be given, and let the Africans come up with their own programs to deal with AIDS in Africa, and let them battle their own cultural battles. There are educated Africans trying to do just that, and what they need is money and medical supplies, not some foreigners with agendas trying to enforce a colonialist view.

    We can’t force anything in these situations, and I think that’s why these programs aren’t working.

  147. #147 Lynna
    April 1, 2009

    Suggested addition to adjectives Dawkins used to describe His AssHoliness: God-Addled.

  148. #148 Steve_C
    April 1, 2009

    Actually Uganda addressed the problem and a fair amount of success. Their model was adopted to be used in other parts of africa.

    When you’re trying to keep people from spreading a sexually transmitted disease, it doesn’t take much to figure out there’s 3 things one can do to not get infected.

    1. Don’t have sex.
    2. Only have sex with someone who is not infected and is only having sex with you.
    3. If you have sex with someone and you don’t know if they are infected, always use a condom.

    Seems simple. But we all know that human behavior isn’t so simple.

  149. #149 LC
    April 1, 2009

    I think the pope’s overall intent, was, that more so than just passing out condoms, the men in africa need to stop sticking their penis into everything that moves, and that would more drastically than any other measure cut back on the problems with STD.
    And particularly there need to be new attitudes on the issues of Rape in africa, birth control and condoms aside, these problems are not going to change in africa until the menfolk stop raping everything they can catch.

  150. #150 Aaron Logan
    April 1, 2009

    This may be a duplicate post but I don’t mind saying this twice. A more accurate view of how Uganda “addressed the problem”:

    Uganda’s Decline in HIV/AIDS Prevalence Attributed to Increased Condom Use, Early Death From AIDS, Study Says

  151. #151 aratina
    April 1, 2009

    Steve_C:

    William Crawley: So it would be a mistake to draw any causal connection between an increase in the use of condoms and an increase in HIV prevalence. That would be a mistake, wouldn’t it?

    Edward Green: We don’t have any proof.

    Who doesn’t have any evidence again? If you’re going to use that trope on my opinions and impressions of Green and his numerous intertubes-documented connections with right wing organizations, then you ought to at least hold him to the same standards.

    It’s pretty rich if you read further into the BBC Will and Testament interview with Green. At one point he declares that he “always questioned authority” but fails to realize that agreeing with the pope is hardly questioning authority. In another part, he warns that UNAIDS is not fact-based but ideologically driven and then turns around and almost says “they got better” just before promoting a soon to come joint statement between UNAIDS and his own department at Harvard.

  152. #152 aleph
    April 1, 2009

    @Rjaye

    Many apologies but your comment comes off idiotic at worst and sophomoric at a generous best. A quick glance over policies instituted by, say, South Africa or the growing practice of “curing” AIDS by having sex with a virgin run completely counter to your point.

    AIDS is a disease which needs to be treated with some off the more advanced medication available. The prevention of it also requires advanced techniques. This is a given.

    This,

    “What should be happening is that only the best scientific information should be given, and let the Africans come up with their own programs to deal with AIDS in Africa, and let them battle their own cultural battles.”

    Is, however, rubbish. We should, by the above, ban doctors without borders, all food shipments etc etc. The South African government had access the best information and highest quality medical infrastructure and responded by declaring that HIV and AIDS were not related and the best treatment involved lemon juice.

    Perhaps we should build a wall around the continent? Deny them the benefits of our experience and watch from the sidelines as they (potentially) make easily avoidable mistakes – such as listening to Pope Natzinger. Also, lets not bother about that nasty stuff in Rwanda, Zimbabwe or elsewhere. It’s Cultural. Let them fight/fuck/figure it out on thier own.

    “There are educated Africans trying to do just that,”

    Quite a few of those Africans are white. Just sayin…

    “not some foreigners with agendas trying to enforce a colonialist view.”

    This is not the 1800s anymore. If you are going to drop inflamatory Freshman-year concepts please update your lexicon. Capitalist Exploitation or Corporate something Greed something or other. Colonialist view my left nut. Name one country or foreign power that is even remoptely trying to set up a colony in Africa.

    Rant ends. Apology extended

  153. #153 MikeTheInfidel
    April 1, 2009

    aleph-

    AMEN.

    This all-permeating concept of multicultural acceptance and tolerance as the most important controlling factor in the decisions we make is beyond tiring. Yes, it’s wonderful that we have different cultures in different places, all with our own different mythologies and traditions. But science is science, no matter how backward your superstitions may be, and it is ridiculous to attempt to defend superstitious, anti-scientific, dangerous theology that attempts to undermine a potential solution with actual, tangible benefits.

  154. #154 MZ
    April 2, 2009

    Yet another two cents on the subject of fairy tales; I have on my shelf a fascinating book called “The Uses of Enchantment” by Bruno Bettleheim. In this book, Bettleheim talks about how fairy tales can be used by children as a jumping off point for their own fantasies and so be used as a coping mechanism for childhood anxieties. I gather that Bettleheim was one of the last great Freudians so there is a lot of Freudian imagery and dogma, but it is also interesting that he says that because fairy tales arise from an oral tradition, they have undergone a kind of evolution by natural selection as child listeners request different stories and different versions of the same stories in order to cope with their current anxieties.

    He also expresses an extreme dislike for “the Disney Version” of fairy tales and even for published versions that clean up the more violent and politically incorrect elements in these stories. The main thesis is that these stories gain their strength by the fact that they are shaped by the listeners as much as they are by the tellers.

    By the way, love the blog.

    MZ

  155. #155 Vaal
    April 2, 2009

    As PZ has confirmed, Richard Dawkins was misquoted, his exact words were “stupid, ignorant or wicked”

    Wicked is the right word. His stance on condoms makes him responsible for more deaths than Hitler’s death camps, and his stone-age dogma inciting unsustainable population growth in the 21st Century is unforgivable.

    The man, unfortunately for humanity, is a fool. To be intelligent, yet still be a fool, is truly witless.

  156. #156 Ben
    April 2, 2009

    @127

    Are you saying that HP really didn’t receive special treatment due to being the star Quidditch player or that his overwhelming bank account did not allow him to make his stay easier? Hogwarts was no different than any other boarding school in that regard.

  157. #157 Michel
    April 3, 2009

    Thanks for the clarification. I was wondering for a while why Dawkins used redundant adjectives in his condemnation of the Pope. The question now is: is it an honest mistake or was the Daily Telegraph doing a subtle censorship job there?

  158. #158 Piltdown Man
    April 5, 2009

    PZ Myers:

    I have received a communique from Richard Dawkins in which he protests that he was misquoted in the Telegraph. What he actually said was,

    The Pope is either stupid, ignorant or wicked.

    Richard Dawkins @ 20:

    I PROTEST. I have been misreported, traduced. I did NOT say the Pope is “stupid, ignorant or dim”. I said he is “stupid, ignorant or WICKED.” Why can’t these people get things right?

    Wicked? That implies the Pope is responsible for his own words and actions. But we know this cannot be.

    Hear what Professor Dawkins has to say:

    “Retribution as a moral principle is incompatible with a scientific view of human behaviour. As scientists, we believe that human brains, though they may not work in the same way as man-made computers, are as surely governed by the laws of physics. When a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software.
    Basil Fawlty, British television’s hotelier from hell created by the immortal John Cleese, was at the end of his tether when his car broke down and wouldn’t start. He gave it fair warning, counted to three, gave it one more chance, and then acted. “Right! I warned you. You’ve had this coming to you!” He got out of the car, seized a tree branch and set about thrashing the car within an inch of its life. Of course we laugh at his irrationality. Instead of beating the car, we would investigate the problem. Is the carburettor flooded? Are the sparking plugs or distributor points damp? Has it simply run out of gas? Why do we not react in the same way to a defective man: a murderer, say, or a rapist? Why don’t we laugh at a judge who punishes a criminal, just as heartily as we laugh at Basil Fawlty? Or at King Xerxes who, in 480 BC, sentenced the rough sea to 300 lashes for wrecking his bridge of ships? Isn’t the murderer or the rapist just a machine with a defective component? Or a defective upbringing? Defective education? Defective genes?
    Concepts like blame and responsibility are bandied about freely where human wrongdoers are concerned. When a child robs an old lady, should we blame the child himself or his parents? Or his school? Negligent social workers? In a court of law, feeble-mindedness is an accepted defence, as is insanity. Diminished responsibility is argued by the defence lawyer, who may also try to absolve his client of blame by pointing to his unhappy childhood, abuse by his father, or even unpropitious genes (not, so far as I am aware, unpropitious planetary conjunctions, though it wouldn’t surprise me).
    But doesn’t a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused’s physiology, heredity and environment. Don’t judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a Fawlty car?
    Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such conclusions? Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or on thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units that need fixing or replacing? Presumably because mental constructs like blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution. Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live. My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car. But I fear it is unlikely that I shall ever reach that level of enlightenment.”

    Source.

    So chill out, guys. Stop with the blame game already! The Pope’s not evil, just a faulty unit that needs fixing.