Pharyngula

Non-Believers Giving Aid

If you haven’t already donated to disaster relief in Haiti, here’s your chance: a new umbrella organization to coordinate charitable giving for the godless has been set up. In the first two hours that this was created, over $11,000 has been donated. Get on the bandwagon!

Non-Believers Giving Aid: a religion-free way to help disaster victims

Washington, DC January 17, 2010

In response to the tragedy in Haiti, several organizations representing ‘non-believers’ and others have set up a disaster relief fund called ‘Non-Believers Giving Aid’. In an appeal for donations, the website of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science states (http://givingaid.richarddawkins.net/):

Spurred by the horrific suffering in Haiti, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) has set up a dedicated bank account and PayPal facility to collect donations to non-religious relief organizations. This new account is in the new name of Non-Believers Giving Aid, with all of the money donated being distributed to disaster relief.

Clearly the immediate need is for the suffering people of Haiti, and all the money raised by this current appeal will go that cause, but the new account will remain available for future emergencies too. There are, of course, many ways for you to donate to relief organizations already, but doing it through Non-Believers Giving Aid offers a number of advantages:

100% of your donation will be go to these charities: not even the PayPal fees will be deducted from your donation, since Richard will personally donate a sum to cover the cost of these (Capped at $10,000). This means that more of your money will reach the people in need.

When donating via Non-Believers Giving Aid, you are helping to counter the scandalous myth that only the religious care about their fellow-humans.

It goes without saying that your donations will only be passed on to aid organizations that do not have religious affiliations. In the case of Haiti, the two organizations we have chosen are:

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans Frontières)

International Red Cross

You may stipulate using a dropdown menu which of these two organizations you want your donation to go to; otherwise, it will be divided equally between them.

Preachers and televangelists, mullahs and imams, often seem almost to gloat over natural disasters – presenting them as payback for human transgressions, or for ‘making a pact with the devil’. Earthquakes and tsunamis are caused not by ‘sin’ but by tectonic plate movements, and tectonic plates, like everything else in the physical world, are supremely indifferent to human affairs and sadly indifferent to human suffering. Those of us who understand this reality are sometimes accused of being indifferent to that suffering ourselves. Of course the very opposite is the truth: we do not hide behind the notion that earthly suffering will be rewarded in a heavenly paradise, nor do we expect a heavenly reward for our generosity: the understanding that this is the only life any of us have makes the need to alleviate suffering even more urgent. The myth that it is only the religious who truly care is sustained largely by the fact that they tend to donate not as individuals, but through their churches. Non-believers, by contrast, give as individuals: we have no church through which to give collectively, no church to rack up statistics of competitive generosity. Non-Believers Giving Aid is not a church (that’s putting it mildly) but it does provide an easy conduit for the non-religious to help those in desperate need, whilst simultaneously giving the lie to the canard that you need God to be good. 

Please help us to help the suffering people of Haiti.

The organizations and supporters actively involved in this effort include:

Atheist Alliance International
Atheists United
The British Humanist Association
James Randi Educational Foundation
Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
Pharyngula
The Reason Project
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
The Skeptics Society

Quoting Richard Dawkins, “The merciless power of tectonic plate movement has conjured a disaster of epic proportions and all of us, whether religious or not, must do all in our power to help.”

Author, scientist and Founder of the Reason Project Sam Harris said, “ It is widely imagined that, in times of crisis, religious people render aid in disproportion to their numbers. Richard Dawkins has now created an opportunity for nonbelievers, who are rightly focused on the welfare of their fellow human beings in this life, to put the lie to this myth.”

The President of Atheists United commented “The indiscriminate consequences of earthquakes, floods, fires and such remind us that there is no god to protect us, and that humankind must come together to do what we can to help and protect each other.”

Michael Shermer, the Executive Director of the participating Skeptics Society, notes: “It’s all well and good to say that we nonbelievers are just as moral as believers (we are, but that’s a philosophical point)–actions count more than words and real donations are where the theoretical rubber meets the practical road. This is our time to pony up and show the world our true character.

Jason Torpey, President of Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers stated, “As they have done with the Out Campaign, Non-Believers Giving Aid continues the RDFRS tradition of positive, community-centered atheist coalition building.”

A spokeswoman for the Richard Dawkins Foundation noted, “While those of us who do not believe in a god or gods might identify ourselves as ‘atheists’, ‘humanists’, ‘non-theists’, ‘skeptics’, ‘Freethinkers’, or other label – the term ‘non-believer’ has been brought into the public consciousness by President Obama and is easily identifiable. Independent of whether we are non-believers or not, the tragedy of Haiti pulls at everyone’s heartstring. All of us are unified in our humanity.”

Non-Believers Giving Aid
http://givingaid.richarddawkins.net

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is a 501(c)(3).
www.RichardDawkinsFoundation.org
www.RichardDawkins.net

Contact: Liz Cornwell, rec@RichardDawkins.net
719.351.6324
Mailing Address: 11605 Meridian Market View, Unit 124 PMB 381, Falcon CO 80831

Photo downloads: http://richarddawkins.net/media

Contacts for participating organizations

Atheist Alliance International
http://www.atheistalliance.org/
Contact: Stuart Bechman, President email: president@atheistalliance.org
Tel: +01-866-HERETIC.

Atheists United
http://www.atheistsunited.org/
Contact: Bobbie Kirkhart, President email:e-mail  president@atheistsunited.org
Tel: 323-229-5500.

The British Humanist Association
http://www.humanism.org.uk
Contact: Andrew Copson, Chief Executive email: andrew@humanism.org.uk
Tel: 020 7079 3584 or 07534 248596.

James Randi Educational Foundation
http://www.randi.org
Contact: D.J. Grothe, President email: idjgrothe@randi.org
Tel: 954-467-1112
Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF)
http://www.maaf.info
Contact: Jason Torpy, President email: president@maaf.info
Tel: 614-329-1776

Pharyngula
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/
Contact: PZ Myers, pzmyers@gmail.com
Tel: 320 589-7116

The Reason Project
http://www.reasonproject.org/
Contact: Sam Harris email: contact@reasonproject.org

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
http://www.RichardDawkinsFoundation.org & www.RichardDawkins.net
Contact: Liz Cornwell, Executive Director email: rec@RichardDawkins.net
Tel: 719.351.6324

The Skeptics Society
http://www.skeptic.com/
Contact: Michael Shermer, Founder email: mshermer@skeptic.com
Tel: 626/794-3119

For information on the Disaster Relief Agencies:

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans Frontières)
http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

International Red Cross
http://www.icrc.org/

Comments

  1. #1 lagunatic
    January 16, 2010

    I love the idea of a non-religious charity – but I already gave directly to MSF and RC. Is there any reason, other than to make an anti-religious statement, to not just donate directly to those two organizations?

  2. #2 MJ
    January 16, 2010

    Just gave 10 euros. On top of the 25 I already donated to another charity for Haiti. I love this non-believers fund. Next time, everything will go there ;-)

  3. #3 astrodad
    January 16, 2010

    Glad to donate godlessly! Good to see a bunch of reason based organizations are backing this and that we’ll have a place to go for this and future causes.

  4. #4 SecularDad
    January 16, 2010

    Is there any way to donate directly with a card? I don’t have a paypal account.

  5. #5 Buffybot
    January 16, 2010

    Taking this link to pass on to the ‘Lazy, Stupid and Godless’ group at Ravelry.com. In two days of holding an ‘LSG-A-Thon for Haiti’ they’ve raised more than $17,000.

  6. #6 Sili
    January 16, 2010

    I feels wrong to be so vocal about aid.

    But I understand the need. The opposition after all is not ashamed of milking tragedy for personal gains.

  7. #7 spyderkl
    January 16, 2010

    I wish I had known about this before I donated money to MSF and Partners in Health directly. But it’s a really great idea.

  8. #8 Sili
    January 16, 2010

    *It feels

  9. #9 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 16, 2010

    Alright, you’ve shamed me. Another donation has been given.

  10. #10 TWood
    January 16, 2010

    Thank you for helping Dawkins with this, donation made.

  11. #11 Mrs Tilton
    January 16, 2010

    Thanks. Excellent idea. Getting help to Haiti is the really important thing, but I’m happy to be able to do it in a way that underscores it is consciousness of shared humanity and not belief in something supernatural that prompts me to kick in.

    Lagunatic @1: and that’s pretty much it. Nothing wrong with donating directly. But, as PZ’s link lets one donate to IRC and Msf via a clearly non-religious channel with no loss or extra charge, why not do it that way?

    The important thing is helping, not making an anti-religious satement. In this context, even a pro-religious statement is a good thing. Hats off to all our religious friends who are reaching into their pockets for the people of Haiti, at least if their giving goes to food, water, medicine etc. instead of bibles. But if we too can help and, without reducing the amount of our donations that goes to Haiti, do it in a way that tells people why we are helping, that can only be a good thing.

  12. #12 Islander
    January 16, 2010

    Donated what a college undergrad has to spare for this month.

    Sam Harris’ comment left me a little uneasy. I’m sure he didn’t mean to make it sound like this was just an opportunity to show up the religious, but he could have mentioned something about the Hatians’ need and despair. Maybe it was an incomplete quote or something…

  13. #13 gilraenthecat#916d1
    January 16, 2010

    Please be cautious in using Paypal.

    https://www.paypal-community.com/t5/eBay/HORRIBLE-IDEA-TO-HOLD-FUNDS-FOR-21-DAYS/td-p/14220

    It doesn’t directly relate to donations, but paypal is holding funds illegally in certain situations.

  14. #14 Islander
    January 16, 2010

    or maybe even the Haitians

  15. #15 Ritchie Annand
    January 16, 2010

    Paypal was a bit idiotic when I renewed my credit card (“don’t you have another one?”) so my donation was direct to MSF, so count a little more for our side :)

  16. #16 Kevin
    January 16, 2010

    The Center for Inquiry has also set up a webpage for Haiti disaster relief donations through its S.H.A.R.E. program. (Skeptics and Humanist Aid and Relief Effort.)

    http://www.centerforinquiry.net/news/share_opens_fund_for_haiti_quake_relief/

  17. #17 Peter
    January 16, 2010

    I’d already send some funds Oxfam’s way when Harris’ newsletter alerted me to the RDF-led one. Ah, what the hell, another $50 is going to make more difference to them than to me.

    Second donation sent.

  18. #18 alysonmiers
    January 16, 2010

    I already gave $50 to SHARE through CFI earlier this week, which goes to MSF, but good for Prof. Dawkins for providing another way to donate! Hats off!

  19. #19 Dahak
    January 16, 2010

    $10 sent. Not much but but it’s what a college kid can do. I quite like the idea of a secular charity.

  20. #20 bjorn.watland
    January 16, 2010

    This seems like an effort to break down a stereotype, but it also has the effect specific religious charities have. Atheists feel uncomfortable giving money to a religious organizations, even if they aren’t proselytizing, and this effort feels just as exclusionary. It’s more then secular, it’s specifically atheistic. I hope in time, this effort won’t be needed, but it is needed to raise awareness of atheists. One should be aware that donations to the Red Cross don’t always specifically go to the effort you think it may go to, but can be used to fund their other efforts. Just something to think about.

  21. #21 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    January 16, 2010

    Sorry for the caps, but this needs to be seen.

    IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT PAYPAL – You do NOT need to have a PayPal account to donate, although that’s not obvious until you click the PayPal button. Once you do, you can pay with your ordinary credit card. PayPal makes this hard to figure out because they want you to mistakenly believe you have to open a PayPal account, but you don’t.

    I’ve emailed the admins at RD’s site to ask them to put a prominent note to that effect on their donations page, as some potential donors are surely walking away. Perhaps PZ could put an addendum on this post?

    Lagunatic wrote:

    I love the idea of a non-religious charity – but I already gave directly to MSF and RC. Is there any reason, other than to make an anti-religious statement, to not just donate directly to those two organizations?

    This is important for RD.net to do because many people in the blogosphere are asking where they can donate and be sure it’s not used for a religious charity. Yes, you can say they can research for themselves, but time is of the essence. What counts is giving people a quick way to donate and overcome any hesitations – there’s no anti-religious statement being made that I can see.

    Also, so many people have squawked about how the “atheist movement” is so “negative.” They’ve complained that charities like RD.net ought to be doing direct charitable work too, to show that atheists give to humanitarian causes. Seems like we just can’t please everyone, huh?

    Folks, none of this matters. What matters is getting these suffering people money and aid NOW, right away. Please, please, let’s not bicker over atheist politics. Save it for later. Donate.

  22. #22 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    January 16, 2010

    Another thing for those with legitimate concerns (and for those who just want to be naysayers) directly from the RD site:

    1. 100% of your donation will be go to these charities: not even the PayPal fees will be deducted from your donation, since Richard will personally donate a sum to cover the cost of these (capped at $10,000). This means that more of your money will reach the people in need.

    No need to be concerned about PayPal skimming, then, and nothing to stop you from donating.

    2. When donating via Non-Believers Giving Aid, you are helping to counter the scandalous myth that only the religious care about their fellow-humans.

    There, all taken care of. Nothing to be concerned about, and no excuse to kibbitz rather than opening your wallet.

    /rant

  23. #23 bart.mitchell
    January 17, 2010

    Damn, now you tell me.

    As soon as I heard about the disaster, I doubled my years donation to MSF (Doctors without Borders)

    I guess thats one of the problems being secular. It didn’t even cross my mind that our group should be getting credit for my charity. It was just something I had to do.

    The religious seem to need to be seen doing their charity. They crave the approval of their peers just as much as they crave the approval of their imaginary friend.

  24. #24 Louise
    January 17, 2010

    Quoting from the RD Foundation website:

    The myth that it is only the religious who truly care is sustained largely by the fact that they tend to donate not as individuals, but through their churches. Non-believers, by contrast, give as individuals: we have no church through which to give collectively, no church to rack up statistics of competitive generosity.

    The believing friends that I interact with give generously as individuals as well as to church international missions and projects. I would like to see convincing data to the contrary. Anyway, giving to help others in times of desperate need is just the right thing to do for all of us. I give to many secular organizations that are doing good work. I would never refuse money to a humanitarian organization just because it was not affiliated with a church. That seems small minded.

    Louise Van Court

  25. #25 Cuttlefish, OM
    January 17, 2010

    I probably would holler
    If you stole from me a dollar,
    But a dollar isn’t really all that much.
    I could maybe buy a cola
    Or a handful of granola;
    Maybe tuck it in a g-string, but I couldn’t buy a touch.

    I’d be angry for a minute, maybe two
    But a dollar might be life or death for you.

    And you know I’d shout aplenty
    If I went and lost a twenty
    That’s a pizza, and a six of decent beer
    Or the cover at a nightclub
    Where I’d go, or where I might, bub,
    If it wasn’t so annoying, so I mostly just stay here.

    I’d be pissed off for a day, or two or three
    But that twenty bucks might save your family.

    I’d be sure my anger thundered
    If some asshole stole a hundred
    Cos a hundred is a major chunk of dough!
    And I’m sure that I would feel it
    If some wanker were to steal it
    But a hundred means much more to you, as anyone would know.

    And a hundred less would hardly break my neck
    In perspective, guess it’s time to write a check.

    (oddly enough, inspired by Tim Minchin’s “the guilt song”)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGas0D9_zgI

  26. #26 Kane148
    January 17, 2010

    bart.mitchell @ #23:
    “I guess thats one of the problems being secular. It didn’t even cross my mind that our group should be getting credit for my charity. It was just something I had to do.”

    You’re completely correct!

  27. #27 Andyo
    January 17, 2010

    I’m not comfortable with Paypal making money off from Dawkins and the charity. If they announced they would waive fees for Haiti charities that would be fine, I don’t have anything against them, I even use them a lot. The Doctors without borders site makes it just as easy to donate with a card.

  28. #28 Ogbert
    January 17, 2010

    Am I the only one that kind of feels like we’re taking advantage of the situation in Haiti to show how nice atheists can be? I know that everyone here would probably donate anyway, but it seems like the prime motivator in getting people to donate is to show religious people that atheists can show compassion, too. I think what would be more telling is if we just donated solely out of the goodness of our hearts instead of advertising “Hey atheists! Donate so we can show those religious people they’re wrong when they said we were selfish!” By doing the latter, we only reinforce the idea that we donate for our own selfish benefit.

  29. #29 hermanflinger#d4449
    January 17, 2010

    Humanist Charities of the American Humanist Association is also a place to donate aid to Haiti and give credit to our side. A group of us donated toward aid going to the village of Jacmel.

    See humanistcharities.org

  30. #30 Michael
    January 17, 2010

    I agree with you Ogbert. Explaining out loud why we give the money makes us look bad. This part of the press release is also wrong

    with all of the money donated being distributed to disaster relief.

    All of the money donated will go to the two charities. But how much gets to disaster relief depends on who the charities operate.

    Michael

  31. #31 John Morales
    January 17, 2010

    Ogbert,

    Am I the only one that kind of feels like we’re taking advantage of the situation in Haiti to show how nice atheists can be?

    Apparently not.

    I know that everyone here would probably donate anyway, but it seems like the prime motivator in getting people to donate is to show religious people that atheists can show compassion, too. I think what would be more telling is if we just donated solely out of the goodness of our hearts instead of advertising “Hey atheists!

    No, it quite literally would be less telling. :)

  32. #32 jrsutter
    January 17, 2010

    I’ve been meaning to give something, and this got me off my ass to do it. Still, disappointed in myself for letting it go so long.

  33. #33 sidheag
    January 17, 2010

    Doesn’t seem to be set up for UK GiftAid yet, though, on quick inspection. If that’s so, UK taxpayers should definitely choose another donation route, where they can tick the “I am a UK taxpayer” box and get the extra money to the charities.

  34. #34 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    January 17, 2010

    Am I the only one that kind of feels like we’re taking advantage of the situation in Haiti to show how nice atheists can be? I know that everyone here would probably donate anyway, but it seems like the prime motivator in getting people to donate is to show religious people that atheists can show compassion, too.

    Yes, you’re the only one. Nobody cares why you’re donating, or why I’m donating, or why the person next to us is or isn’t donating. The only thing that matters is that we all do donate so we can save suffering people from starvation and a cruel death.

    So, how about you shut the fuck up about whatever you think the “prime motivator” is, and just donate. In the time it took you to be a sanctimonious asshat showing your very, very important concerns, you could have pledged another $50, or given another pint of blood.

    Shut your fucking pie hole and donate.

  35. #35 negentropyeater
    January 17, 2010

    Great idea, but it seems only US tax is reclaimable from donations.
    So I’ll have to stick with giving to MSF directly where I can reclaim French Tax which enables me to make a larger donation.

  36. #36 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    Josh, Official Spokesgay,

    Hey, thanks for the info about Paypal – I’m very reluctant to open an account with them, and I was one of those who thought you needed an account to pay through them! I’ve already donated to MSF (“Doctors Without Borders” – I guess in the USA they can’t use the original French name, as they do in the UK?), but can manage a little more via this excellent initiative.

  37. #37 coughlanbrianm
    January 17, 2010

    Am I the only one that kind of feels like we’re taking advantage of the situation in Haiti to show how nice atheists can be?

    Probably not, but does it really matter? People give for different reasons, and all of them are at least partially motivated by self interest of one kind or another.

    If we are leveraging on the tragedy for the “atheist agenda”, at least it isn’t to terrify people into “the fear of God”, or enslave them to superstition, and it is generating a massive wave of aid for the victims of this tragedy.

    At it’s most basic, what is being said is what sensible groups of humans have always said – “It’s an uncaring universe out there, if we don’t pull together and support each other, no one else is going to do it for us. We are all we have.”

  38. #38 negentropyeater
    January 17, 2010

    Ogbert,

    Am I the only one that kind of feels like we’re taking advantage of the situation in Haiti to show how nice atheists can be?

    I understand your “concern”. But please note that every disaster relief fund has to start one day, and that’s usually linked with a specific disaster. For instance the Red Cross was founded by Henry Dunant following the battle of Solferino, would you say that he took advantage of the battle to show how nice he was ?

    When the next disaster strikes in XXX, will you still say that “we’re taking advantage of the situation in XXX to show how nice atheists can be” ?

  39. #39 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    Yes, it is important to ensure that non-US tax is reclaimable as soon as possible! I have just made a donation via NBGA, not having noticed this problem, but until this is sorted out, it makes more sense for non-US non-believers to donate directly to non-religious charities.

  40. #40 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    Probably not, but does it really matter? People give for different reasons, and all of them are at least partially motivated by self interest of one kind or another. – Brian Coughlan

    Indeed. Worrying about whether your motives for helping others are, or are seen as, self-interested, is itself an absurd piece of self-indulgence.

  41. #41 SeanH
    January 17, 2010

    I’m confused why money should be given to the Richard Dawkins Foundation to pass on to MSF and Red Cross, rather than just giving it directly to those organisations. Dawkins is covering the PayPal fees, but there wouldn’t be any if we just gave to those organisations directly. The whole purpose of this intermediary seems to be to count up how much comes from the atheists. I don’t object in principle to an atheist charity – but this isn’t even that.

    (In the UK, I prefer to give to the DEC, as the umbrella organisation for 13 charities that can co-ordinate their effort effectively)

    As regards the Red Cross: yes, it’s true that some donations go into their reserve funds. This is because it takes time to mobilise appeals and donations, and the Red Cross has to get its operation on the ground immediately. They need to keep a reserve on hand so that their capacity to respond to emergencies isn’t held hostage to immediate global concern. Some of the money given will go to helping out with the next disaster – I don’t think anybody should be worried about that.

  42. #42 echidna
    January 17, 2010

    Are the motives of people who give through their church considered suspect because they gave through the church, and not directly?
    Even giving through a non-religious organisation (a school, or scouts for example) is hardly suspect either. An organisation mobilizes the efforts of the individuals, who might otherwise lack sufficient motivation. This is usually a good thing.

    So why the double standard with atheists?

  43. #43 Michael
    January 17, 2010

    Indeed. Worrying about whether your motives for helping others are, or are seen as, self-interested, is itself an absurd piece of self-indulgence.

    It’s not about self-indulgence it’s about avoiding giving our opponents a propaganda victory by serving up to them on a plate in our own words the claim that we do good not because we are moral but because we want to pretend we are moral.

    giving the lie to the canard that you need God to be good.

    Why not just set up the charity and show by our actions that we don’t need God to be good.

    Michael

  44. #44 Michael
    January 17, 2010

    So why the double standard with atheists?

    That is rhetorical I assume? But one reason is l’ll bet scouts don’t say `we are collecting to giving a lie to the idea that Scouts are no good’.

    Michael

  45. #45 windy
    January 17, 2010

    I’m not comfortable with Paypal making money off from Dawkins and the charity. If they announced they would waive fees for Haiti charities that would be fine, I don’t have anything against them, I even use them a lot. The Doctors without borders site makes it just as easy to donate with a card.

    Looks like PayPal may be willing to waive their fees but so far it’s only doing it for Save the Children.

    **ALL organizations collecting for disaster relief in Haiti are eligible to receive fee waivers. Please send an e-mail to nonprofit@paypal.com for fee waiver consideration.

    So, whoever is coordinating the Dawkins thing, are they aware of this possibility?

    But then there are also credit card fees. So even making a donation directly via credit card is not necessarily “fee free”. The credit card companies are now waiving fees for some of the major charities but I’m not sure how this works out if the credit card payment is via PayPal, and/or through an umbrella organization? I don’t think avoiding handling fees is the most important thing here, but it would be a shame if people choose their method of donation to avoid the fees, and then the donation gets skimmed anyway.

  46. #46 John Morales
    January 17, 2010

    Michael, the Scouts is a charity, and actively seek donations — for themselves.

    Indoctrinating those kiddies on their duty to God doesn’t come cheap, you know! ;)

  47. #47 eddie
    January 17, 2010

    Are we not just giving aid to the military invasion; putting blackwater before drinking water?
    http://www.gregpalast.com/the-right-testicle-of-hell-history-of-a-haitian-holocaust/#more-3272

  48. #48 David Marjanovi?
    January 17, 2010

    So Pharyngula is an organization now? :-)

    Sorry for the caps, but this needs to be seen.

    Boldface is much more visible in this font, as your comment shows. If you need even more emphasis, use a bigger font size (

    style="font-size:xxpt"

    , with 13 through, say, 20 for “xx”, and the whole thing inside a <p> or <span> tag) and/or color (

    style="color:red"

    for instance, again inside a <p> or <span> tag) in addition to boldface. The <blink> tag does not work.

  49. #49 David Marjanovi?
    January 17, 2010

    Oops. Didn’t know that the <pre> tag produces line breaks.

    Are we not just giving aid to the military invasion; putting blackwater before drinking water?

    WTF. Obama needs to fire Gates right now.

    Changing horses in midstream is a good idea when the one you’re flogging is dead…

  50. #50 blf
    January 17, 2010

    I cannot find any definitive source that Xe (ne Blackwater), or Greystone (the counterpart based in Barbados), were or are in Haiti, but the claim seems to be they are ?protecting? an un-named USA media firm (with no implication that Obama, Gates, the State Dept., or anyone else has anything to do with it).

  51. #51 rachel.wilmoth
    January 17, 2010

    Just an FYI to those who pointed out that some charities use donations at their discretion. This is true, but some charities allow you to specify. I made two separate donations through the American Red Cross–one was “Where the need is greatest” fund, and the other was the “Haiti Relief and Development” fund.

  52. #52 Strh
    January 17, 2010

    Donation made. I must admit I had not planned on donating anything before (limited student budget) but somehow this spurred me.

  53. #53 eddie
    January 17, 2010

    From frumforum;

    “Private security contractors will be present in Haiti, assisting the civilian agencies and NGO?s distribute emergency supplies while at the same time providing essential security services. This private security role will increase as the conventional military is withdrawn to return to the primary military mission; to maneuver, close with and destroy enemy forces.

    Originally posted at STORMBRINGER.”

    How can I donate to charities that will refuse to work alongside fascist death aquads?

  54. #54 Epinephrine
    January 17, 2010

    Will Non-Believers Giving Aid be a registered charity at some point?

    I know there is a list of requirements for becoming a registered charity (I assume so in the USA, I know it is so in Canada), but the advantages are important – being able to issue donation recepits, for example, which can influence donations (after all, I can give more to Haiti by donating directly to MSF, as I receive a tax break for my donation).

    Additionally, it makes it eligible for selection in charitable campaigns like the Government Workplace Charitable Campaign, which I donate to every year. Being able to easily select NBGA on my annual charitable donations would be very convenient.

  55. #55 Don Smith
    January 17, 2010

    @eddie,

    That guy is ranting to just rant. I just caught up on some news and saw US military personnel on the ground in Haiti the next day. The report was about USAid search and rescue teams that had just arrived, again, within 24 hours of the disaster. And complaining about the helo carrier Vincent with “missiles and helicopters” is completely disingenuous. The Vincent was heading home to San Diego when it was diverted to Florida to pick up the helicopter squadron and immediately steam to Haiti. Those were cargo and personnel lift helos NOT Cobra attack helicopters. How else are you going to get around a city where almost every street is filled with rubble? That carrier also has the equipment to make drinking water from sea water.

    The rest of his rant is about old history of the evil things we did to small countries during the cold war. Yes, we helped create the current situation but what does that have to do with our response now?

  56. #56 Lynna, OM
    January 17, 2010

    Don Smith @55: Thank you for the additional information about the carrier Vincent. I was wondering myself about some of the news reports.

    PZ, thanks for signing on to help in this effort. It’s a great idea, and I hope you will pass on to Richard Dawkins our thanks for his organizational skills, and our thanks for his donation of $10,000 to cover fees.

    We tend to get caught up in our own personal difficulties, but a coordinated action like this puts things back in perspective.

  57. #57 blf
    January 17, 2010

    There’s is no reliable confirmed evidence that Blackwater, Xe, or Greyscale is now or ever was in Haiti (on a government contract, I have no idea about any private contracts). There is a detail-less twitter entry claiming an un-named USA media company hired “Blackwater” for “security”, which is not impossible but also not confirmed.

  58. #58 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    Don Smith,

    The rest of his rant is about old history of the evil things we did to small countries during the cold war.

    No it isn’t. He notes the sustained French blood-sucking of the Haitian people for over a century, for one thing. As for the evil things the USA* has done to small countries, these neither began nor ended with the Cold War. Learn some fucking history. With regard to Haiti, the US occupied the country from 1915-1934, establishing in effect a colonial economy; and has intervened in both 1994 – restoring the ousted Aristide but in such a way as to hamstring refom; and in 2004, kidnapping and removing the re-elected Aristide.

    Yes, we helped create the current situation but what does that have to do with our response now?

    It’s a justifiable ground for suspicion. Most of Palast’s article is contrasting US tardiness with other countries’ speed of response – with what degree of justification, I don’t know.

    *Of course, other strong states have acted just as badly, or in some cases, worse.

  59. #59 Don Smith
    January 17, 2010

    55 was in response to eddie @47, not eddie @53.

    @53: I don’t know but something needs to be done so I gave to the Red Cross (before I saw this thread – I guess that means it doesn’t count as the areligious behaving morally).

  60. #60 blf
    January 17, 2010

    Gah! I meant Greystone, not Greyscale. Greystone is Xe’s (Blackwater’s) international arm, based in Barbados, conveniently outside the reach of USA law.

  61. #61 Don Smith
    January 17, 2010

    Palast’s article is contrasting US tardiness with other countries’ speed of response – with what degree of justification, I don’t know.

    He has no justification. The quake hit Tuesday afternoon and the news report I watched was from Wednesday. USAid was on the ground in Haiti Wednesday afternoon. I don’t know what time they got there but the report also interviewed some of them during the early morning hours at Dulles as they were getting on flights to Haiti. They said they had no sleep because they spent the night packing. How much faster could they have responded? BTW, USAid is a government organization.

    PS. Just because I didn’t recite the ENTIRE history of Haiti doesn’t mean I don’t know it. I will not respond in kind here.

  62. #62 Don Smith
    January 17, 2010

    PPS, My point is, now is not the time for a history lesson (maybe it will be soon), now it is time to help.

  63. #63 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    January 17, 2010

    Dawkins is covering the PayPal fees, but there wouldn’t be any if we just gave to those organisations directly.

    Folks, please. Ugh, this is maddening.

    Here’s how the world of credit cards works:

    1. ALL credit card processing companies take fees.

    2. Visa and Mastercard themselves take a fee from each transaction.

    3. When you use PayPal, PayPal’s fees (in the range of 2.2 percent) are levied instead of the ordinary fees the business/charity would have paid anyway to Visa or Mastercard if said business/charity took money from donors directly through Visa/Mastercard into the charity’s bank account.

    4. PayPal’s fees are comparable to, and sometimes, a bit lower, than the fees Visa/Mastercard levy. Part of PayPal’s fees, of course, go back to Visa/Mastercard.

    5. Whether you donate directly to a charity, or do so through PayPal, there will be @2 percent fee . This means it’s not true to say “if you just donated directly to thus and such, there would be no fee” .

    6. Payment processing/credit card companies are businesses that make their living on fees associated with every bloody credit card transaction you ever make . Do you think it’s “free” to pay for your groceries with your debit card? It isn’t. The grocery store pays the transaction fee. This is normal .

    7. You may argue that credit card companies ought to waive their fees for Haiti aid, but why are so many acting like they have a duty to do so? Why shouldn’t these companies waive their fees for every single charitable donation they process every day, Haiti or not? Should Doctors Without Borders “waive” the salaries they pay to their administrative staff? Is it clear how little sense this makes?

    Why do I know all this? Because I work for a charity that survives on donations, and I sign the checks that pay the transaction fees we accrue to PayPal when donors send money by credit card. Before we used PayPal, we paid just the same fees directly to Visa/Mastercard. This is ordinary business practice, not some nefarious scheme.

    I’m no fan of rapacious credit card companies, but some of these complaints are ridiculously ill-informed. If you don’t want “your money being skimmed off by credit card companies,” then send a paper check to the charity of your choice. As long as you’re OK knowing that it will take crucial days – during which some Haitian could starve – for a real person to trot that check down to the bank before the charity can use the money. Oh, wait – the charity would just end up paying the bank a check-processing fee anyway, so it’s a wash.

    Sorry for the rant, but this sturm und drang over credit card fees is based on complete ignorance.

    /grumpopotamus

  64. #64 Don Smith
    January 17, 2010

    Learn some fucking history.

    Those who live in glass houses…
    Aristide alleges the CIA was involved. That does not make it true. It could be, but the official position was the opposite.

  65. #65 recovering catholic
    January 17, 2010

    Well, dang, I wish I hadn’t already contributed to Partners in Health without indicating somewhere on the form that I am an atheist. But the important thing is that our donation does something to alleviate the horrors in Haiti.

  66. #66 JeffreyD
    January 17, 2010

    Josh at #63, excellent summation and post on the fees issue. Thank you for bringing some clarity to the discussion. Curious if you had any thoughts or information on the current, “text the word Haiti to 90999 (or whatever it is) to donate $10″? I am not worried about the security issue, not worried at all, just curious about overhead costs for that type of program and how to best use my donation.

    Ciao

  67. #67 blf
    January 17, 2010

    Visa, American Express, and MasterCard in the USA are waving fees for donations to some Haiti-’quake related charities (and only for a limited time).

    http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/some-card-fees-waived-for-haiti-aid/

    To-date, only American Express has been specific about which charities:

    American Express said that through the end of February, it would rebate the transaction fees for charitable contributions made on its card directly to the nonprofit organizations listed on the Agency for International Development?s Web site in support of Haiti relief.

    The Visa site, as an example, contains no information (that I could easily find).

  68. #68 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 17, 2010

    Palast’s rant was just that, a rant. He spouted about how 2000 US Marines were being sent to Haiti without mentioning that most of those Marines are the 2nd Marine Engineer Battalion. The purpose of military engineers is to repair and build infrastructure, stuff like hospitals, water and sewage plants, and airfields.

    Incidentally, the aircraft carrier in Haitian waters is the Carl Vinson, not Vincent. A carrier like the Vinson has a hospital on board with people trained to handle trauma cases. That might be useful to have in a disaster area.

  69. #69 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    January 17, 2010

    JeffreyD:

    I don’t know the details of the texting-$10 setup, so I can’t say.

    Donors have legitimate concerns about the percentage of their money that goes directly to aid. But what they (including my dearly beloved fellow Pharyngulites) forget is that money has a value dependent on time. Example:

    I gave $50 to Medecins sans Frontieres the other night by credit card. With a standard 2 percent fee to the credit card company, that means $1 – just one dollar – didn’t go directly to MSF. But $49 went immediately into their bank account . That means they can immediately access the money to help Haitians . When people are dying of thirst or infection, every second counts.

    Sure, I can avoid the dreaded, ebul credit card fees by sending a check, but that means I’ve wasted time and cost MSF staff salaries to process the check . It’s so maddeningly counterproductive, which is why I sound so cranky.

    I see even Dawkins’ site has succumbed to this misinformation by telling donors they can mail – yeah, by the PHYSICAL postal service! – a check directly to charities if they “want to avoid PayPal’s fees.”

    I’m a big, gushy, liberal do-gooder just like most Pharyngulites, so this isn’t some libertarian/conservative defense of big business. But too many of us here are appallingly uninformed about basic market economics, and it’s causing us to make unreasonable, silly complaints. Worse, it’s stopping some good people from donating right now, right away, which is what the people of Haiti desperately need.

  70. #70 blf
    January 17, 2010

    A carrier like the [Carl] Vinson has a hospital on board with people trained to handle trauma cases. That might be useful to have in a disaster area.

    It can desalinate multiple tens of thousands of litres of seawater each day. Problem of the moment is getting that fresh water to the people onshore who desperately need it.

  71. #71 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    January 17, 2010

    Here’s that ignorance I wrote about above – the kind that makes people do stupid things that actually hurt charities and the people in Haiti – at work. A commenter on the NY Times said this:

    Yesterday I made a large contribution to Doctors Across Borders only to read that they are not waiving their fee for charitable contributions. I called and told them they should be ashamed to make money off of someones hardships and to cancel my charge. They would not cancel. I called Doctors Across Borders to ask them not to submit the charge and that I would send a check for same amount today.

    Think about it. This commenter thought it was more important to cancel his/her donation, waste staff time on the phone with Doctors Without Borders, and waste precious days by sending a check in the mail to the charity. Which, of course, will cost staff time, salary, and bank fees to process. I’m sure the man in the street with the broken bone thanks this commenter for forcing Doctors Without Borders to wait a few days, just so a buck or two doesn’t get “skimmed.”

    Obviously, this is making me crazy and I’m sorry to rant so, but it needs to stop.

  72. #72 JeffreyD
    January 17, 2010

    Josh, thanks for the further info. BTW, I already gave money to MSF via credit card so I was really asking more for info than advice. I could not agree more that fifty cents today is often worth more than a $1 in two weeks. In any case, enjoyed your post and thoughts as always.

    Take care, JeffreyD

  73. #73 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    January 17, 2010

    Didn’t mean to sound like I was lecturing you, JeffreD, mea culpa:) I hope what I wrote is useful for other people.

  74. #74 SecularDad
    January 17, 2010

    @Josh, Official SpokesGay: Thanks for the info. Our family has now donated $50.

  75. #75 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    PPS, My point is, now is not the time for a history lesson (maybe it will be soon), now it is time to help.

    And your point is wrong. First, because this history provides the political context through which we can understand what’s being done and by whom (Katrina should have taught people something here). Second, because their are people who very much want “aid” to be turned to their own advantage and have shown that they don’t give a fuck about Haitians, and they may well be counting on people’s hesitance to discuss politics to get away with it. Third, because understanding that context and giving to aid efforts are not mutually-exclusive.

    Those who live in glass houses… Aristide alleges the CIA was involved. That does not make it true. It could be, but the official position was the opposite.

    *snort* Please. Read/watch my links on the Haiti thread. Randall Robinson and Amy Goodman went to the DRC to help Aristide when the US and French governments kidnapped him and his wife and dumped them there (after funding and training militias to oppose his government and then claiming that the existence of these people meant imminent civil war). They have since, continuing in violation of international law, prevented them from returning to their country. They have, as I pointed out, funded/supported/recognized “elections” from which the country’s biggest party is excluded. This isn’t “history.” It’s happening now. This isn’t about Aristide except insofar as he was the democratically-elected (by a landslide) president of the country, and the US and French governments and corporations have no respect for democracy in countries they consider their pawns.

    BTW, USAid is a government organization.
    PS. Just because I didn’t recite the ENTIRE history of Haiti doesn’t mean I don’t know it. I will not respond in kind here.

    If you knew about Haitian history (or cared not to misrepresent it), you would be aware of USAID’s history in the country, and why anyone reasonable would find it untrustworthy, to put it mildly.

    ***

    All of that said, the idea that people shouldn’t donate to real aid organizations is crazy. I’ll just note again that I’m very familiar with PIH’s work and have full confidence that they’re working in the Haitians’ immediate and long-term interests.

  76. #76 OurDeadSelves
    January 17, 2010

    Not a bad idea, but I prefer to give to the organizations directly (it’s not that I don’t trust the Richard Dawkins Foundation; I wouldn’t trust PayPal as far as I could throw ‘em).

    I’ve already given to the Red Cross and now I think it’s time to give to Doctors Without Borders.

  77. #77 SC OM
    January 17, 2010
  78. #78 https://me.yahoo.com/a/wGPSKEwBpZiVkkRnaUzZ2XdZmECU6qY-#59813
    January 17, 2010

    One of the things I find interesting about the response of to this disaster with respect to “faithful” vs “faithless” is that as far as actually giving money (which is all the majority of us can do that is really useful)… the faithless community is actually far more responsive than the faithful.

    Since I heard about the disaster (I didn’t know about it until I read about here on Pharyngula) and Pat Robertson’s odious remarks I have been monitoring some christian forums ( http://forums.christianity.com ). The majority of responses on those forums was on the order of “I will pray for them.” NOT “I will donate.”

    When one person brought up an actual list of donation sites on the christianity.com forums the response was limited. One response was:

    Do all of those charities help “IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST”?

    I am not asking in a snarky manner. It is my opinion that charity not done in Jesus’ name is worthless. Why give money to a charity if it has no eternal impact?

    Most of the linked charities DO donate in the name of Christ, which is eternally awesome.

    ManimalX

    The only decent response to that comment was:

    Well until Christians put their money where there mouth is there will be a need to have Charities that aren’t necessarily in Jesus’ name or many more millions of people will die.

    _jjp_

    In any case… Haiti has dozens of charities operating on the island since well before this disaster. In a sense Haiti has been an ongoing disaster throughout the 20th and now 21st century. It just recently got a whole lot worse.

    -DU-

  79. #80 Multicellular
    January 17, 2010

    Done. Had already given to the American Red Cross but felt it important to give to this as well. I was glad to see this fund is supported by my favorite atheist organization (shameless plug), the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

  80. #81 Ogbert
    January 17, 2010

    First of all, I’m surprised by the vitriol expressed by some commenters. I’m on your side! Second, I’m not saying we shouldn’t donate. I completely agree that donations are helpful, whatever the reason is that the person donated. All I am saying is that if one of the goals of our donations is to show religious people that atheists can care, then we aren’t doing a great job. I think what would be more effective is providing a rational, godless reason to donate for the sake of helping the people. For example, I think when couphlanbrianm said

    “It’s an uncaring universe out there, if we don’t pull together and support each other, no one else is going to do it for us. We are all we have.”

    that’s a step in the right direction. We could post up a Peter Singer argument for why we need to help our fellow person.

    Sorry I’m not responding to all of your concerns. I don’t have time to continue arguing about this.

  81. #82 marion.delgado
    January 17, 2010

    I don’t think nonbelievers are big joiners (which, if Bowling Alone is right, is not necessarily a virtue on our part.)

    However, PZ, if you or anyone is keeping an informal tabulation, here’s one nonbeliever who didnt’ give to those particular things but did donate something.

    I already gave some money in memory of Michael Manley, the late PM of Jamaica, to the ICRC.

  82. #83 JeffreyD
    January 17, 2010

    Josh at #73, not to worry, I did not take it as a lecture and I encouraged you to write more. As I said, I enjoy your posts, especially those about the inner workings of charity – quite educational. Please post on these things as needed. I am sure I am not the only one who enjoys and learns from them.

    Ciao

  83. #84 bjorn.watland
    January 17, 2010

    If the concern is that the man with a broken leg in the street will have delayed assistance because someone argued over a fee associated with a donation which caused a delay in payment processing, wouldn’t it make sense, following the logic, to give directly to the charities who are doing the work? Don’t you think money will be held for some time in the bank account for this new fund? Wouldn’t there also be a payment processing fee assessed to the charity receiving the money from the RDF Fund? How about we have an unofficial (or official) page to tabulate pledges atheists have made toward relief, whether as individuals, organizations, or whatever.

  84. #85 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    Here’s the full statement:

    http://ccrjustice.org/files/100114_HaitiAid_Statement_FINAL_0.pdf

    Despite what Don Smith seems to think, there’s no such thing as a depoliticized “help” in these situations. It matters very much how aid is provided.

  85. #86 Spiro Keat
    January 17, 2010

    The religious seem to need to be seen doing their charity. They crave the approval of their peers just as much as they crave the approval of their imaginary friend.

    Exactly.

    I don’t think we need to do the same.

  86. #87 RamziD
    January 17, 2010

    I think Echidna at post #42 hit it right on the head. I think it is important to show and document how much non-believers contribute to charity. It doesn’t make the donations any less valuable.

  87. #88 Elin
    January 17, 2010

    I donated to UNICEF the first night; it’s great that the RDF has set this up, though. My immediate reaction is that I wish I had waited a couple of days and donated via the RDF; however, morally, I think donating ASAP was the better thing to do. Also, UNICEF is not a religious organization; I would not donate to, for example, a Catholic organization. Especially seeing as how the Catholic Church’s irrational, anti-human stance on birth control is at least partially responsible for the overpopulation problem in Haiti.

  88. #89 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    We could post up a Peter Singer argument for why we need to help our fellow person. – Ogbert

    Why the fuck do you need an argument for this? The reason for helping other people is that they need your help.

  89. #90 Azkyroth
    January 17, 2010

    Yet another reason this would be a really convenient time for my employer to not be like $4000 behind on paying me :(

  90. #91 Caine
    January 17, 2010

    I’ve already donated to MSF. I think this is a fine effort though, and if I manage to free up any more money, I’ll donate again.

  91. #92 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    Don Smith,

    My “Learn some fucking history” was in response to your stupid claim that the USA had only treated small countries badly during the Cold War – not to mention the absurd dismissal of this as “old history”. As for CIA denials – does your Mom know you’re posting on a blog where rude words are used?

  92. #93 Don Smith
    January 17, 2010

    I didn’t say only. I did not mean to imply that. I was replying to things that are not posted here so I will stop threadjacking now.

    BTW, my Mom is dead. Thanks for caring.

  93. #94 Deiloh
    January 17, 2010

    I gave my available pennies to the International Red Cross in the first hours of the disaster. If I can gather a few more pennies for other charities next month, I will do so.

  94. #95 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    You said:

    The rest of his rant is about old history of the evil things we did to small countries during the cold war.

    That is demonstrably false. See #2, 12, 13, 14.

    Yes, we helped create the current situation but what does that have to do with our response now?

    Everything. The militarization of humanitarian efforts, especially in a country like Haiti given the history and present state of US involvement there, is a real cause for concern.

  95. #96 The Devil
    January 17, 2010

    hey knockgoats,

    you know why you piece of shit? because i need a fucking logical reason to donate to haiti. why the fuck should i care about them? i worked hard for my money, i plan to save it to raise my own offspring that will carry on my genes, and not to support the people that, for the all the time before the earthquake, have done nothing to support me. and if i do support them with the hope that they will one day help me out, that’s just idealist. there is no fucking way those people are going to get their shit together enough to help me in ANY way. i need a good goddam reason to help them before i give one fucking cent. if we just follow the lessons of darwinian evolution, why dont we let the strong survive? yeah it seems heartless, but so is evolution. in the end, we may lose some good people, but itll probably be a net gain.

  96. #97 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    The Devil,

    OK, so you’re psychopathic scum, but most of us here are not. Fuck off and die, m’kay?

  97. #98 The Devil
    January 17, 2010

    hey knockgoats,

    you know why you piece of shit? because i need a fucking logical reason to donate to haiti. why the fuck should i care about them? i worked hard for my money, i plan to save it to raise my own offspring that will carry on my genes, and not to support the people that, for all the time before the earthquake, have done nothing to support me. and if i do support them with the hope that they will one day help me out, that’s just idealist. there is no fucking way those people are going to get their shit together enough to help me in ANY way. i need a good goddam reason to help them before i give one fucking cent. if we just follow the lessons of darwinian evolution, why dont we let the strong survive? yeah it seems heartless, but so is evolution. in the end, we may lose some good people, but itll probably be a net gain. plus think of all the money that is going to fucking haiti when we have so much shit to fix in our own country. if im going to donate, im going to help people in just as much need that are closer to me.

  98. #99 The Devil
    January 17, 2010

    sorry, i didn’t mean to post twice. ok, knockgoats, listen. im actually asking for a counter argument. i WANT to want to donate to haiti. but i just CANT find a good enough reason to donate there, when there are other things that are just as beneficial to people, but ALSO beneficial to me. i would really like someone to prove me otherwise.

  99. #100 Mal Adapted
    January 17, 2010

    I’d like to ask SC, OM if she thinks any human behavior is morally ambiguous.

  100. #101 OurDeadSelves
    January 17, 2010

    i WANT to want to donate to haiti. but i just CANT find a good enough reason to donate there, when there are other things that are just as beneficial to people, but ALSO beneficial to me.

    I know I shouldn’t respond (it’s not even directed at me), but whoa I can’t let this one slide.

    40,000+ people are dead and you want to know what you will get out of it?! How about the knowledge that for once in your life you didn’t act like a self centered douche?

    You’ve chosen your name well, asshat.

  101. #102 Lowell
    January 17, 2010

    if we just follow the lessons of darwinian evolution, why dont we let the strong survive? yeah it seems heartless, but so is evolution.

    Devil, you’ve got a serious is-ought problem here. Evolutionary biology describes and explains life. It does not prescribe any moral “lessons.”

    Or did you already know that?

  102. #103 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    I’d like to ask SC, OM if she thinks any human behavior is morally ambiguous.

    Then go ahead and ask. :) If you want a response, though, you’ll have to be clearer and more specific. I really have no idea what you’re asking or why.

    My points are that:

    1) The US government (military, “aid” agencies, covert agencies,…) and corporations have been absolutely central to wrecking Haiti, oppressing and killing Haitians, and creating the conditions that made this disaster far worse than it would have been otherwise and mounting an adequate response far more difficult. This history should be known, and its actions should be scrutinized closely.

    2) Militarized relief is not a desirable model for humanitarian aid. Regardless of the good motives or morals of the individuals involved (when they exist, and that can’t be assumed in this case), it’s not likely to be conducive to short-term results, human rights, or long-term goals of the affected populations. It should always be scrutinized.

    3) The argument that now is not a time to talk about the political context or the nature of aid is pure horseshit. As I said, there are plenty of people who want to capitalize on this tragedy for their own ends, and they’re helped by people not confonting this. Probably no non-Haitian has done more for Haiti than Paul Farmer, and his organization is doing everything possible to help, but they still felt it necessary to issue a joint statement calling attention to the need for a human-rights-based, democratic, and justice-oriented approach to aid and rebuilding. This is because they understand this history and context and the dangers it brings.

  103. #104 Walton
    January 17, 2010

    “The Devil” may be one of two things. He might be a reverse-Poe; someone masquerading as an atheist, and behaving like an absurd caricature of an atheist in order to make atheists look stupid.

    Or (more worryingly), he might actually believe what he’s saying. Plenty of people in history have misused evolutionary theory as a pretext for advancing their own amoral worldviews. They fail to understand that evolutionary biology, like all other fields of natural science, deals with the way the world is; it doesn’t provide us with moral guidance on how it ought to be. It is descriptive, not normative.

    In my case, I am well aware that my relatively comfortable lifestyle is, almost entirely, the result of luck. I was lucky to be born into a prosperous and free Western society, to a middle-income household, in the modern era with all of its technological and social advantages. Had I been less lucky in some of those respects, I could right now be buried under a pile of rubble in Port-au-Prince, or starving on a collective farm in North Korea. Devil claims to have “worked hard for his money”, but like most people in Western societies, he, too, has almost certainly benefited from luck in a number of these regards – as have we all.

    And this awareness, that the life I enjoy is primarily the consequence of the accident of birth, leads me to a desire to help the many people in the world who did not enjoy the same advantages. The people of Haiti did not choose to be born into poverty, nor did they choose to be victims of an unforeseen and catastrophic natural disaster. They are no less “deserving” than I am, and they need aid. Justice therefore dictates that, to the extent it is in our power as individuals to do so, we share the proceeds of our good fortune and send aid.

    This is nothing to do with politics, and I’m not going to talk about politics on this thread. It’s more important than politics.

  104. #105 The Devil
    January 17, 2010

    ok ourdeadselves youre at least trying. but youre wrong about at least one thing. i do donate my money. i donate it to causes in my community. there are children in my city that grow up homeless, orphaned and uneducated and as a result, either die or become criminals. so i donate to local orphanages and underfunded educational facilities. by doing so, i help myself because in the future, hopefully there will be less criminals in my community. when i donate to haiti, it serves the same purpose. only this time, its not my community, and it doesnt benefit me. it does, however, take money that i would donate away from those children in my community. i only a finite amount of disposable income that im willing to give. it serves the same purpose in both places. but only one has the additional benefit of helping me.

  105. #106 coughlanbrianm
    January 17, 2010

    @The Devil

    if we just follow the lessons of darwinian evolution, why dont we let the strong survive?

    I think what we have here is a christian misunderstanding. Because they have a book which must be followed mindlessly, they think everyone else must too; Islam has their Koran, the Jews their Talmud and Atheists have The Origin of Species.

    Let me explain: Evolution is not an ideology like capitalism or communism, it’s a description of how the natural world actually works.

    Do you now see that your position makes about as much sense as running around pushing people out of windows because “that’s what gravity wants!!”.

    Twit.

  106. #107 Walton
    January 17, 2010

    SC, I frankly find it disgusting that you’re hijacking this thread, which is about humanitarian aid and human compassion, and turning it into an anti-US political rant. Please, just stop. I’m not going to rise to the bait by discussing the substantive issues in your post, but I think you should be ashamed of yourself.

  107. #108 Blind Squirrel FCD
    January 17, 2010

    The Rev. Toussaint described his own near-miraculous survival

    . “I watched the destruction of the cathedral from this window,” he said, pointing to what remains of the archdiocese office. “What happens is a sign from God, saying that we must recognize his power — we need to reinvent ourselves.”

    “What happened is the will of God,” the Rev. Eric Toussaint told some 100 worshippers. “We are in the hands of God now.”

    Hebrews 10:31

    It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    BS

  108. #109 Andyo
    January 17, 2010

    Josh #63,

    Of course everybody is aware of CC fees. The thing is that there are two processors in the chain here. This group is giving money to MSF or the RedCross. How is that handled, that is the question. This is not the same as your charity’s donations being processed by Paypal.

  109. #110 Mal Adapted
    January 17, 2010

    Then go ahead and ask. :) If you want a response, though, you’ll have to be clearer and more specific. I really have no idea what you’re asking or why.

    Thanks, I have my answer.

  110. #111 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    I’d like to ask SC, OM if she thinks any human behavior is morally ambiguous.

    I’d also point out that there are in Haiti some quasi-anarchist organizations, and those US organizations like Grassroots International that I admire greatly. While I’d like to assume that everything about them is perfect, and of course don’t have illusions that Lavalas is, either, I can’t just take their side in all cases. I don’t agree with every one of the policies or actions of these groups, and sometimes find myself on the side of political parties (which include, for that matter, religious people *gasp!*). There’s a lot of moral ambiguity there. There are few* organizations, though, that I think are as unambiguously good and unself-interested as Partners in Health. In contrast, the US military simply cannot be assumed to be acting for Haitians. It’s simply ridiculous to say, “Well, whatever the past is, now they’re just trying to help, and we should lend them our support.” The history of the US government with regard to Haiti isn’t ambiguous. It’s horrific.

    *If any, come to think of it…

  111. #112 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    Thanks, I have my answer.

    Thanks, then my answer, unambiguously, is fuck off.

  112. #113 OurDeadSelves
    January 17, 2010

    #105
    Your train of thought is still totally backwards. I’ll give you a fucking cookie for donating to orphanages (really? Orphanages? Is this Victorian England?), but your behavior is completely amoral and that’s what angers me so much. Is there no value to making the world a slightly better place or perhaps helping to save one life?

    So, in short, I stand by my statement that you’re a douche.

    Oh and a ps: use the fucking shift key. I know that you know where it is. Your arguments are even sillier since they look like they come from an uneducated high schooler.

  113. #114 The Devil
    January 17, 2010

    thank you walton. unfortunately, i do believe the things i say. and i dont want to. and no one i know even knows this side of me. on the outside im a nice normal guy. but im plagued with a need for logic. and i make my decisions based on heartless practicality. ive divorced myself from all lessons society has imposed on me, and i try to construct my own “morals” (though i hesitate to use that term, since it seems to me to be a vestige of religion). i sound like a horrible person (and should rightfully so be considered one) but i feel okay doing this anonymously so i can work out my philosophy without being a detriment to my social relations. please dont treat me like a subhuman or a psychopath. only an atheist wrestling with his ideas.

    that being said, youre right about me being lucky. i sure am. but if you truly believe what you said, wouldnt it be most logical to just give everything you have to poor people? yet i think it is safe to assume you dont. why dont you. kids die every day from starvation, but we dont save them when we could do so SO easily. everything we do, at some level, is selfish. i think i may be the most honest about my reasons. i give some of my money to local charities, not haiti, because it reduced crime around me and it veils my true nature so that i am not made an outcast.

  114. #115 The Devil
    January 17, 2010

    There you go, OurDeadSelves. Thanks for the ad hominem attacks.

  115. #116 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    SC, I frankly find it disgusting that you’re hijacking this thread, which is about humanitarian aid and human compassion, and turning it into an anti-US political rant. Please, just stop. I’m not going to rise to the bait by discussing the substantive issues in your post, but I think you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Walton, frankly, you’re a damned fool. I didn’t hijack this thread in any way. You know fuck-all about Haiti or this history, and you have nothing substantive to contribute.

  116. #117 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 17, 2010

    SC OM #103

    Militarized relief is not a desirable model for humanitarian aid. Regardless of the good motives or morals of the individuals involved (when they exist, and that can’t be assumed in this case) [emphasis added]

    I really get pissed off at statements like this. I realize it’s a article of faith among certain people that anyone in the military is an automatic degenerate whose only thought is whether to kill the babies before or after raping them.

    Fuck you, SC. The people in the military sent to Haiti are as moral or immoral as everyone else.

  117. #118 Andyo
    January 17, 2010

    Jesus the Devil is a low-class reverse Poe. The purpose of Poeing is to be indistinguishable from the real thing, you idiot. When have you seen a real nonbeliever who knows anything about evolution behave like that?

    Why are you Poeing about this particular subject in these particular times anyway, it makes it even worse.

  118. #119 OurDeadSelves
    January 17, 2010

    Hey, no problem.

    please dont treat me like a subhuman or a psychopath. only an atheist wrestling with his ideas.

    I wouldn’t treat you like a psychopath if you didn’t act like one. Morality that is based on reward (see: religion and your arguments) really isn’t morality at all, but one more way to ultimately be selfish and cruel.

    I am truly sorry if you can’t see the value of helping someone who needs it. It must be a sad “every-man-for-himself” world that you live in.

  119. #120 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 17, 2010

    Assuming The Devil isn’t a poe, he or she really needs to learn the difference between evolution and social darwinism.

  120. #121 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    BTW, my Mom is dead. Thanks for caring. – Don Smith

    Oh, I care about the earthquake victims. Fuckwits who believe CIA denials mean anything, and whine about obvious figures of speech – not so much.

  121. #122 The Devil
    January 17, 2010

    coughlanbrianm (and others), why do you guys have to all be fucking assholes? i admit, i was being an asshole initially, but i quickly realized it gets no where. youre doing a disservice to your arguments when you throw in things like “twit” and “ps theres a fucking shift key” (ourdeadselves). good luck trying to get people to like you and empathize with the atheist cause.

    coughlanbrianm, youre right that evolution is only a process, not a code of morality. we must seek our own happiness, and if saving people makes you feel less guilty about being lucky, then by all means, do it. anyway, i cant spend any more time on this thread. ive got other shit to do. thanks for all the hate.

  122. #123 coughlanbrianm
    January 17, 2010

    i admit, i was being an asshole initially, but i quickly realized it gets no where.

    Well, at least you’ve learned something.

    Twit.

  123. #124 Walton
    January 17, 2010

    I second what ‘Tis Himself said at #117. And I am not going to engage SC any further on this. Gods forbid that anyone get in the way of her ranting about her favourite political bogeymen (namely, US foreign policy and the US military).

    SC,

    I didn’t hijack this thread in any way… and you have nothing substantive to contribute.

    Yes you fucking did. This was a non-political thread about the need for urgent humanitarian relief, a cause on which I would have thought everyone can agree. But you turned it into a political soapbox for attacking the US and its military.

    And as to my “not having anything substantive to contribute”, I would like to point out to everyone that when I did try to engage you in a thoughtful political discussion lately, you never bothered to reply.

  124. #125 OurDeadSelves
    January 17, 2010

    Wow, it really didn’t take long for The Devil to run away, did it? Man, I miss the more committed trolls.

  125. #126 blf
    January 17, 2010

    Oh good grief! It seems someone else now also saying that because they don’t see any immediate or obvious way they might materially benefit from donating for the rescue and reconstruction in Haiti they don’t see any reason to donate? And/or they won’t donate because they don’t know of anything they’ve previously obtained from Haiti or its people? (At least no-one here is—yet?—arguing that they’ve already donated by paying taxes.)

    What is this, fecking North Korea?

    I’m not sure what upsets me more: The arrogance, the inhumanity, or the colonial mindset.

  126. #127 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    I really get pissed off at statements like this. I realize it’s a article of faith among certain people that anyone in the military is an automatic degenerate whose only thought is whether to kill the babies before or after raping them.

    Fuck you, SC. The people in the military sent to Haiti are as moral or immoral as everyone else.

    What part of “can’t be assumed” do you not understand, ‘Tis? How the fuck does “good motives and morals…can’t be assumed” translate into “anyone in the military is an automatic degenerate whose only thought is whether to kill the babies before or after raping them”? There is a fucking history of US military action in Haiti, given which good motives on anyone’s part cannot be assumed. Not one person has addressed the fact that they kidnapped the country’s president and his wife and dropped them in a dangerous situation just a few years ago. Why the hell should Haitians or anyone else assume that anyone in or acting on behalf of this organization is doing so with the Haitians’ best interests at heart? To say they “are as moral or immoral as everyone else” is exactly my point, if “anyone else” is anyone acting on behalf of the US or France.

    (It happens that of my three closest relatives, one is in the military and specializes in disaster relief. He’s also one of the best people I’ve ever had the honor to know. Your “article of faith among certain people” is ludicrous, as is the rest of your post.)

  127. #128 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 17, 2010

    The Devil #122

    coughlanbrianm (and others), why do you guys have to all be fucking assholes?

    When an obvious sociopath starts spewing “why should I give any money to anyone who isn’t me or lives in my community” then he should be surprised that people respond negatively to him. When folks are dying and some fucking asshole says “I don’t care, survival of the fittest and these folks obviously aren’t fit since they live somewhere besides my home town” then those people who do care about those folks are negatively effected by the fucking asshole.

    i admit, i was being an asshole initially, but i quickly realized it gets no where.

    You started off being an asshole and whine because people treat you like one? You’re not only an asshole but you’re a stupid asshole.

    good luck trying to get people to like you and empathize with the atheist cause.

    Good luck learning to give a shit about other people who don’t live in your neighborhood.

    Oh yeah, learn to use the fucking shift key.

  128. #129 Mal Adapted
    January 17, 2010

    Thanks, then my answer, unambiguously, is fuck off.

    Why?

  129. #130 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    Yes you fucking did.- Walton

    No she fucking didn’t. The threadjack, if there was one, started with eddie@47, to which Don Smith responded @55. Others including me and ‘Tis joined in, so you have no right to single out SC, just because she won’t take you seriously.

  130. #131 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 17, 2010

    What part of “can’t be assumed” do you not understand, ‘Tis? How the fuck does “good motives and morals…can’t be assumed” translate into “anyone in the military is an automatic degenerate whose only thought is whether to kill the babies before or after raping them”? There is a fucking history of US military action in Haiti, given which good motives on anyone’s part cannot be assumed.

    So you are one of those people for whom it’s an article of faith that anyone and everyone in the military is a moral degenerate. I thought you were a little smarter than that. Too bad I was wrong.

  131. #132 windy
    January 17, 2010

    Josh:

    Sorry for the rant, but this sturm und drang over credit card fees is based on complete ignorance.

    If this was in some small part precipitated by my post (since I brought up credit card fees), note that I was pointing out the same thing you did more explicitly later, that there is usually a fee whichever way you choose to donate. So who are you accusing of raising a “sturm and drang” over credit card fees?

    Sure, it’s normal for the credit card companies to charge fees for the service they provide, but IMO the present interchange fee system is skimming in the best of times. Of course there are all kinds of administrative costs later on in the chain, but is it reasonable for the credit card companies and banks to get 2% before it even gets to the charity? I hope most of us have donated already so this is just an academic discussion about the fees, not a reason to delay your donation.

    PS. Yes, choosing a check over a credit card payment is nuts.

  132. #133 Gyeong Hwa Pak, the Pikachu of Anthropology
    January 17, 2010

    coughlanbrianm (and others), why do you guys have to all be fucking assholes? i admit, i was being an asshole initially, but i quickly realized it gets no where. youre doing a disservice to your arguments when you throw in things like “twit” and “ps theres a fucking shift key” (ourdeadselves).

    Apostrophes are a big help you know, but cause “its” is completely different from “it’s.”
    It’s kinda hypocritical to call people assholes when you were the asshole first.

    good luck trying to get people to like you and empathize with the atheist cause.

    Good luck on getting anyone to empathize with you on anything, self-centered twit.

  133. #134 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    Yes you fucking did.

    No, I fucking didn’t, liar. Read the thread.

    This was a non-political thread about the need for urgent humanitarian relief,

    No, it wasn’t. Even the OP was about atheist aid, which is undeniably political. Dipshit. The provision of humanitarian aid itself is political.

    a cause on which I would have thought everyone can agree. But you turned it into a political soapbox for attacking the US and its military.

    You’re an ass. You never gave a flying fuck about Haiti. Oh, wait – here’s me in July of 2008 (for example):

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/altenberg_meeting_next_week_ex.php#comment-967978

    You talk to me when you’ve volunteered addressing envelopes and licking stamps asking for donations for Haitian organizations in non-emergency situations, Walton.

    And as to my “not having anything substantive to contribute”, I would like to point out to everyone that when I did try to engage you in a thoughtful political discussion lately, you never bothered to reply.

    You had nothing substantive to contribute then, either, but I’m still planning on responding.

  134. #135 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    So you are one of those people for whom it’s an article of faith that anyone and everyone in the military is a moral degenerate. I thought you were a little smarter than that. Too bad I was wrong.

    What the hell are you talking about?

    Why?

    Respond to my request for clarity and specificity. What moral ambiguity are you talking about, and how have I not addressed it?

  135. #136 Jadehawk, OM
    January 17, 2010

    So you are one of those people for whom it’s an article of faith that anyone and everyone in the military is a moral degenerate. I thought you were a little smarter than that. Too bad I was wrong.

    eh? how the fuck did you get that out of what she wrote? the original statement might have been ambiguous, but the follow-up certainly wasn’t. The Haitians really don’t have any reason whatsoever to trust any members of the U.S. military, because they have no reason whatsoever to trust the military as a whole (due ti its history there), and no organization is more top-down than the military. individual feelings, whatever they may be, are second to military orders.

    And you can’t deny that indeed the military has a share of assholes. because so does every other segment of society: it’s just that the assholes in the military have more free range than assholes in other segments, because the military spends a lot of time in places where their actions have diminished or no consequences on them.

  136. #137 Mal Adapted
    January 17, 2010

    SC, now that this thread is about you, I’ll ask you some more questions:

    Do you think history has a single, true and correct narrative?

    If so, do you think yours is it?

  137. #138 ProudLib
    January 17, 2010

    I gave a couple days ago to Doctors Without Borders but thought it wouldn’t hurt to donate again – especially with this designation. So I did :)

  138. #139 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    SC, now that this thread is about you,

    No, it really, really isn’t. IT’S ABOUT HAITI. PLEASE KEEP DONATING TO THE RED CROSS, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, AND PARTNERS IN HEALTH.

    I’ll ask you some more questions:

    Do you think history has a single, true and correct narrative?

    No.

    If so, do you think yours is it?

    N/A.

    Answer my request for clarification and specificity.

  139. #140 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    So you are one of those people for whom it’s an article of faith that anyone and everyone in the military is a moral degenerate. I thought you were a little smarter than that. Too bad I was wrong. – ‘Tis Himself

    You’re not usually a stupid arsehole, ‘Tis, so why start now? Your accusation is completely unjustified by what SC said.

  140. #141 Mal Adapted
    January 17, 2010

    Answer my request for clarification and specificity.

    Okay. In #111, you stated:

    The history of the US government with regard to Haiti isn’t ambiguous. It’s horrific.

    However, when I asked you if history has a single, true and correct narrative, you answered:

    No.

    Have you contradicted yourself?

  141. #142 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    …Have you contradicted yourself?

    No.

    This has been another edition of Obvious Answers to Stupid Questions.

  142. #143 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    Mal Adapted,

    Try this one:

    “The history of Belgium with regard to the Congo isn’t ambiguous. It’s horrific.”

    Get the idea: the fact that history does not have a single, true and correct narrative does not mean no unambiguous moral judgements can be made.

    Rather simple really.

  143. #144 Andyo
    January 17, 2010

    Maladapted, you’re being a disingenuous idiot. Why don’t you just come out and say what you think and debate directly, instead of posting all these stupid presumptuous questions and then just say “I thought so”. Explain yourself. Be clear. What’s so freaking difficult about that (that is, unless you’re being dishonest)?

  144. #145 renaissanceblonde
    January 17, 2010

    Hey,

    This isn’t specifically godless, but it is very secular, and is a good way for all the gamers out there to contribute.

    DriveThruRPG has said they’ll match any donation of $5 or $10 to Haiti:
    http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/

    I gave US$5 through it; it was literally all I could spare, and I’m the only one in my family to donate.

  145. #146 SC OM
    January 17, 2010

    Randall Robinson and Amy Goodman went to the DRC CAR

    I have acronym issues.

  146. #147 Mal Adapted
    January 17, 2010

    the fact that history does not have a single, true and correct narrative does not mean no unambiguous moral judgements can be made.

    If you’re aware that the historical narrative may not be true and correct, how can your moral judgement be unambiguous?

    Why don’t you just come out and say what you think and debate directly, instead of posting all these stupid presumptuous questions and then just say “I thought so”.

    Fair enough. I think for SC to assert “The history of the US government with regard to Haiti isn’t ambiguous. It’s horrific.” evinces an unwarranted confidence in the correctness and completeness of her historical narrative. I think her unwavering moral certitude is no less dangerous than the American exceptionalism that enabled “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Was that sufficiently clear?

  147. #148 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    If you’re aware that the historical narrative may not be true and correct, how can your moral judgement be unambiguous?

    Because large parts of that record are sufficiently well-established for such judgements to be made, fuckwit. You are taking exactly the same stance as creationists when they seize on parts of evolutionary history that are not yet completely clear, and AGW-denialists when they note that the exact strength of certain forcings or feebdacks are not known – that since we don’t know everything, we therefore know nothing. Are you, in fact, a creationist or AGW-denialist troll?

  148. #149 Jadehawk, OM
    January 17, 2010

    If you’re aware that the historical narrative may not be true and correct, how can your moral judgement be unambiguous?

    WTF is this? the historical equivalent to Absolutely Relative Morality™?

    *headdesk*

    just because there is not way to establish a Real True History™, there are certain things that are historically so well established that one can make judgments about them.

  149. #150 Andyo
    January 17, 2010

    I think for SC to assert “The history of the US government with regard to Haiti isn’t ambiguous. It’s horrific.” evinces an unwarranted confidence in the correctness and completeness of her historical narrative. I think her unwavering moral certitude is no less dangerous than the American exceptionalism that enabled “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Was that sufficiently clear?

    Evidence makes a difference. True complete, 100% perfect knowledge may not be obtainable, but nobody claimed that. “Unambiguous” just means beyond reasonable doubt. It’s not a 50-50 scenario, with “two (equivalent) sides to the story”.

  150. #151 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    “the exact strength of certain forcings or feebdacks” – Me

    “Feebdacks” – now there’s a quasi-word that ought to have a meaning!

  151. #152 https://me.yahoo.com/a/Ij7l5U1hte.t_DXyuRyFHPU-#779e0
    January 17, 2010

    Please note this touching missive from the Devil to Pat Robertson:
    http://www.startribune.com/opinion/letters/81595442.html?elr=KArks7PYDiaK7DUqEiaDUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

  152. #153 David Marjanovi?
    January 17, 2010

    In a sense Haiti has been an ongoing disaster throughout the 20th and now 21st century. It just recently got a whole lot worse.

    Well put.

    If you’re aware that the historical narrative may not be true and correct, how can your moral judgement be unambiguous?

    The Relativity of Wrong

    “John, when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”

    I think her unwavering moral certitude is no less dangerous than the American exceptionalism that enabled “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

    I haven’t caught SC asserting that there has ever been a Good side in the “ongoing disaster” that is Haiti (except for Partners in Health). Operation Mess Up Potamia famously was a war of Evil against Evil against Evil against Evil… (never mind the fifth Evil side that didn’t have much influence).

    (Hmmmm… when I’m already in the capitalizing business, it was a war of Stupid Evil against Lawful Evil against Chaotic Evil against another Lawful Evil… but I really digress…)

  153. #154 Mal Adapted
    January 17, 2010

    Knockgoats:

    Are you, in fact, a creationist or AGW-denialist troll?

    Wow, now there’s a judgement based on an incomplete narrative. This thread started out as a plea for immediate, practical assistance for the suffering victims of a natural disaster, then got hijacked by unexamined moral certitude. It isn’t about me, any more than it’s really, really about SC, or you.

    However, to make your narrative a little more complete: since age eight, the neo-Darwinian explanation for the history of life is the only creation story that’s ever made sense to me. Much of my life has been spent trying to learn more about it, including two years in a doctoral program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. After opting for an easier way to make a living, I wound up working at Goddard Space Flight Center when Jim Hansen testified before Congress in 1988. I witnessed the initial skepticism of his colleagues giving way to consensus. I’m aware of no serious challenges to that consensus since then.

    Is that enough for you to revise your judgement, Knockgoats? Do I also have to state that upon arising Wednesday morning I gave $100, by credit card, directly to the American Red Cross International Relief Fund, to be used where it is needed most? And yes, I am aware of several historical narratives regarding the Red Cross. I gave them my money anyway. How about you?

  154. #155 Jadehawk, OM
    January 17, 2010

    then got hijacked by unexamined moral certitude.

    and whose “unexamined moral certitude” would that be? certainly not SC’s, since 1)she didn’t start the derail, and 2)none of what she wrote qualifies as unqualified moral certitude

    so what the fuck are you on about?

  155. #156 UXO
    January 17, 2010

    Dunno if this might merit another thread or a bump, but for Canadians considering donating through the RDF: the Canadian government is matching donations to the Canadian Red Cross. I was going to do a donation through the RDF for obvious philosophical reasons, but let’s be honest here: twice the funding is better, even if it comes without the “look at us atheists doing good” label. Maybe we should just do good without calling attention to it… ?

  156. #157 Knockgoats
    January 17, 2010

    Mal Adapted

    Is that enough for you to revise your judgement, Knockgoats?

    I did not make a judgement on whether you are a creationist or AGW-denialist; I asked you that question, because your form of argument exactly paralleled that of those particular kinds of pinhead. I still judge that you are a fuckwit, if that’s what you mean. I am clearly not alone in this.

    Do I also have to state that upon arising Wednesday morning I gave $100, by credit card

    No, you didn’t, but if you really want an altruistic willy-waving contest, I gave 200 (that’s $325 at current exchange rates) to MSF (to whom, among others, I also give a regular monthly donation) a couple of days ago, and another 50 today via RDF. Of course, I may well have more spare resources than you; Sandra Bullock gave $1m, I believe, but she probably has more spare resources than all the commenters here combined.

  157. #158 Mal Adapted
    January 17, 2010

    if you really want an altruistic willy-waving contest, I gave 200 (that’s $325 at current exchange rates) to MSF (to whom, among others, I also give a regular monthly donation) a couple of days ago, and another 50 today via RDF.

    Now we’re talking! I just gave another $500 to MSF. I altruistically wave my willy at your aunties 8^)!

  158. #159 ctenotrish
    January 17, 2010

    First, donation sent. And am happy to have a church-free route to donate! Second, first attempt to sign in via google, so we’ll see . . . .

  159. #160 Jadehawk, OM
    January 17, 2010

    now that’s a useful pissing contest, for once

    anyway, I can’t compete because I’m dirt-poor, and I already donated something like 30-35% of my income for this month. I’ll need the rest to pay rent and feed myself.

    But you two keep on trying to outdo each other

  160. #161 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    January 17, 2010

    Windy:

    I certainly didn’t mean to sound like I was picking on you. I was reacting to lots of complaints in many venues (not just this one) about credit card fees. My apologies if it came off as personal:)

    I am, however, continually frustrated, when you write things like this:

    Of course there are all kinds of administrative costs later on in the chain, but is it reasonable for the credit card companies and banks to get 2% before it even gets to the charity?

    Sigh. Please go back and re-read my post at #63. Yes, it’s reasonable. Why do you think it’s not? Do you still not understand that every credit card transaction, every day, whether to charity or not, carries a fee? How can I make that more clear to you?

    This is how credit card companies make their money. If you think they shouldn’t “get two percent before it even goes to charity,” then you must also think they shouldn’t be paid for any transaction they process, any day of the week, for anything. I’m sorry, but your concern just baffles me. . .what am I missing?

  161. #162 maddogdelta
    January 17, 2010

    I was in church this morning (i know, i know….but there are things that must be done so that extra ammunition isn’t given to someone to use in a custody battle….) and it was very interesting.

    The church had a blood drive taking place that afternoon, and there was the situation in Haiti. A brief announcement was made about the blood drive, and there was a special, second collection for Haiti. The sermon mentioned neither event. Instead, it was full speed ahead with the “give more money to the parish this year” drive.

    First, why a second collection? If religious organizations like the Catholic church want to make a big deal over how much money they give to charity, why didn’t they just dip into their treasury and send the money to Haiti? Or, why not dedicate all of today’s regular collection to Haiti? All the parishoners who are giving extra money aren’t getting extra money from work for the purpose of helping Haiti. They are giving from their grocery money, beer money and mortgage money. Why can’t the Catholic church do the same thing?

    Second, the average number of pints of blood from each blood drive is about 20 pints. Not bad. But there were several hundred people in the 11:00 mass…I’d be willing to bet that if the priest put all his charm into his sermon, he could have had 60 people from just that mass donate blood. Maybe some comment about the church matching Haiti donations would have had people dig a little deeper.

    But that would have actually done some good for humanity. And the church can’t have that…

  162. #163 windy
    January 17, 2010

    Sigh. Please go back and re-read my post at #63. Yes, it’s reasonable. Why do you think it’s not? Do you still not understand that every credit card transaction, every day, whether to charity or not, carries a fee? How can I make that more clear to you?

    Of course I understand it. I don’t know how you could read the following sentence I wrote and argue otherwise?

    “Sure, it’s normal for the credit card companies to charge fees for the service they provide, but IMO the present interchange fee system is skimming in the best of times.

    I think the present fees are high for any transaction, but it becomes more apparent in a situation like this than when you’re buying dumb shit off the internet. So it’s the SIZE, not the existence of a fee that I called unreasonable. What’s wrong with pointing this out when the publicity has already resulted in the fees being waived in some situations, and thus slightly more money making its way to the charities?

  163. #164 Kamaka
    January 17, 2010

    Am I the only one that kind of feels like we’re taking advantage of the situation in Haiti to show how nice atheists can be?

    The whole point of the http://outcampaign.org/ is to state publicly, as a group, we are here. It’s not like Dawkins made “us” give, we’ve been giving all along.

    So wear a read “A” and donate money via godless charity. Stand up and be counted amongst the damned.

  164. #165 ric.larsson
    January 17, 2010

    I haven’t read the entire original conversation, this is only a response to:

    This is how credit card companies make their money. If you think they shouldn’t “get two percent before it even goes to charity,” then you must also think they shouldn’t be paid for any transaction they process, any day of the week, for anything. I’m sorry, but your concern just baffles me. . .what am I missing?

    Using credit instead of cash is the most cost effective way to give money to charity and the charity can use the money quicker that way. Knowing that a lot of your money will be taken away from the cause of you giving money, you are more reluctant to give money (human nature – think of children playing with toys and not charing, anyway you hear this argument from people sometimes).

    From these premises, that the disaster of Haiti is urgent, the most Humane thing the credit company could do is to say “we support these Charities:” and then declare they are removing the credit fee temporarily from X-charity to increase the will of people to give money. They have not done this, not because they are evil, I think, but because they haven’t thought of it, it’s not an obvious and urgent problem to them (though it would be a good PR-’trick’, if anyone reading this works for a credit company. Thought: don’t talk to your boss about it, talk directly to the person in charge of PR, if your interested).

    So basically what your missing is not heart, it’s wisdom – the knowledge of when the rules should be circumvented or changed for the benefit of special situations.

    Give money anyway but put some pressure on the companies afterwards, so that they might consider changing their policy to help with the next disaster (tn, this is not cynical).

  165. #166 Mike
    January 18, 2010

    My Korean credit cards won’t fly with the Dawkin’s donation site. What a shame! I can order from any commercial business in the USA any time on my cards, but to give money away to charity, somehow my card is blocked.

  166. #167 Non Edible Nacho
    January 18, 2010

    About the role of the US military: there are several reports surfacing which seem to validate the skepticism of SC and others here.

    See for example this video from Al Jazeera with testimonies from local Haitians: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F5TwEK24sA

    More links in the next comments, as I think posts with more than one link get moderated.

  167. #168 Non Edible Nacho
    January 18, 2010

    Another example can be seen in this story, from a web that’s been dedicated to Haiti from long ago: http://haitianalysis.com/2010/1/17/ips-as-aid-efforts-flounder-haitians-rely-on-each-other

    The website is interesting in itself if you are looking for information about the political, social and economical context in Haiti.

    And you can find more stories by googling for the site “inter press service”, a relatively well known, non corporate news agency.

    Central American newspapers have also been reporting about planes with supplies and doctors from the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) not being allowed to land in the airport, which I understand is under US control at the moment, and having to go back to where they came from.

    These are worrying facts, I think.

  168. #169 Peter Magellan
    January 18, 2010

    While we’re on the subject of godlessness and Haiti, folks may be interested to hear the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, trying to answer the question “Where was God?” on the BBC’s Today programme. John Humphrys is polite and respectful, but insistent. As one might expect, Sentamu makes an arse of himself.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8458000/8458611.stm

    (I was going to apologise for the OT, but I’ve just read up the thread and seen all the bickering that’s going on; apologies don’t seem to be in vogue at the moment!) :-)

  169. #170 coughlanbrianm
    January 18, 2010

    @Peter

    I wanted to slap that archbishop silly.

  170. #171 Moggie
    January 18, 2010

    #162:

    Second, the average number of pints of blood from each blood drive is about 20 pints. Not bad. But there were several hundred people in the 11:00 mass…I’d be willing to bet that if the priest put all his charm into his sermon, he could have had 60 people from just that mass donate blood.

    Also, they have crates full of Jesus blood. Why not use that?

  171. #172 Knockgoats
    January 18, 2010

    Sentamu could blather for Europe!

  172. #173 Knockgoats
    January 18, 2010

    Mal Adapted,
    Well done! Afraid I’ll have to concede the contest, at least for now!

  173. #174 toth
    January 18, 2010

    $50 to the fund from me. I’m glad that they set this up, I think it’s a great way to give help to the victims and counteract the negative atheist stereotypes at the same time.

  174. #175 Mal Adapted
    January 18, 2010

    Knockgoats,

    Good thing for both of us it’s not really a contest. No doubt your regular monthly donations to MSF far exceed my one-time splodge. You’ve prodded me to consider increasing my own regular giving, though. Thanks for that.

    Not to fan the dying embers, but this item in today’s New York Times may be of interest. Pull quote:

    “The United States has a history of either political domination or neglect in its backyard, and administration officials acknowledge that for Mr. Obama, striking the right balance in Haiti will be crucial.”

    Indeed.

  175. #176 pixelfish
    January 18, 2010

    Apparently the proceeds for this Pat Robertson voodoo doll are going to Haiti: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190365539998&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

    The questions at the bottom of the auction are amusing too.

  176. #177 pixelfish
    January 18, 2010

    As an aside, there’s a “Haitians united by faith” story on the front page of CNN, wherein a pastor from Georgia proudly says that if Haitians questioned their faith, they’d be atheists. It’s implied that either questioning faith or being atheist or both are Bad Things, and that this reliance on faith is what will get Haitians through this pile of suck.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/01/18/haitian.faith.in.god/index.html?hpt=C1

    (I get that Haiti is a highly religious country but to say they are united by faith seems….well…I dunno. It’s like the journalists are trying to counter the recent Pat Robertson bile by saying, “Look, it’s okay to be charitable to Haiti. They have FAITH!”)