Tag Archives: science

Dear Catholics…

10 Apr

Dear Catholics, please help me out here. I am truly and desperately trying to understand how those of you who supported Trump did so because of your identity around being Catholic. Sadly, I have family who have used the “we voted for Trump because we are good Catholics” excuse.

Here is some background information. I was talking with a white, heterosexual, cisgender, able bodied, middle class man last week. He was explaining to me that being gay or transgender had nothing to do with gender equity and more importantly that being gay or transgender was WRONG and those people would go to hell. Subsequently, this person explained why he supports Trump: “Because it is God’s will.” Sadly, this white heterosexual man then went into defensive mode by saying: “…by the way some of my friends are gay — they were even at my wedding. While I know they are wrong and will go to Hell, they are friends of mine.” Oy! I wonder if these “gay friends,” assuming they do exist, would consider him a friend?

Here is where I need some help. Please do chime in and illuminate and educate me. Does your God really support a man like Trump — a man who said it is okay to grab a woman buy the genitals? A man who appoints a white supremacist as the attorney general? A man whose behavior has demonstrated nothing but great avarice? A man who publicly mocked a man with disabilities? Is that the God you worship? Who would Jesus hate?

Furthermore, I thought Catholics were against divorce and adultery. How is that you are able to give Trump a dispensation here? Do the rules only apply to those who are poor and cannot afford to buy off a fraud case for $25 million dollars?

Just a quick history lesson here, for those Catholics that are climate change deniers and think science is just a bunch of poo poo, let us remember that in 1633 Galileo was locked up by the Catholic Church for heresy for asserting that the earth was round and revolved around the sun, which countered the wrong geocentric model the church subscribed to at the time. Damn that science! It took over 300 years for the church to acknowledge it was wrong and that Galileo was right. I’m horrifically sad to see that we seem to be repeating history.

Again, I am truly trying to understand how and why Catholics supported and still seem to support Trump and his administration. From my understanding of Catholicism and Christianity, his behavior seems antithetical to the teachings of Christ. I am also exceedingly sad for this man’s children. What if one of them is gay or trans-identified? This man made it clear he feels obligated to judge them and condemn them. Maybe it is just me, but this does not seem like good parenting, nor does it seem very godly. I welcome all voices on this issue to help better educate us all.


Dear Donald: A Plea For Decency

19 Dec

trumpstampDear Donald:

How unfortunate that the only truth you managed in the past two years was that the “election was rigged.” Sadly it was rigged on your behalf. While I fear this plea will fall prey to your pathological narcissism and thus will not be heard, I make it nonetheless.

It looks as though you may be assuming the role of President of the United States. May I implore you to rise to the occasion — to comport yourself with the gravitas of the role of a world leader?  You are NOT representing yourself here, rather you are representing every person that lives in the United States. Sadly, you have “drained the swamp” (your words) directly into your cabinet and have caused great alarm for all targeted people and communities living in the US. This is not just about misogyny, but about how someone who demonstrates every day that his ego rules over all else and whose success is rooted in the oppression of women, people of color, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, and all of the intersections therein.

For you and your followers, we need something to prove you all are not racist, homophobes, misogynists, breeders of hate. Your appointment of white supremacist and homophobe Steve Bannon does not inspire hope. Your appointment of white supremacist and homophobe Jeff Sessions further deteriorates any modicum of trust in your judgement. Sessions who was declared “too racist” during the Reagan years is now fit to be in your cabinet? One can hardly take solace in your appointment of Rex Tillerson, the Director a US/Russian oil company, as the next Secretary of State–conflict of interest much?  In fact, every appointment you have made demonstrates great disdain for the office they will hold and nothing but contempt and disrespect for the American people.

According the the Southern Poverty Law Center, CNN, Time, The New York Times, and myriad other publications, hate crimes have increased exponentially since the election. Sadly, you have done nothing to disavow any of this horrific behavior. As such, your silence condones it. Your supporters have grown so emboldened that they are ushering in the New Fascism. Ohio has just passed some of the most restrictive laws that preclude women from governing their own bodies. Louisiana has now passed laws that declare LGBT protections illegal, thanks to eternal homophobe Jeff Landry.

Given the evidence of the intercession of the Russians to influence the election in your favor, I know many are now worried about war. Is this what you want to be your legacy? Your inability to understand diplomacy, the need for intelligence meetings, (I know you consider yourself “biggly smart”), your disdain for science and for education should alarm us all. This is where I hope I am categorically wrong. I hope we do not end up in another war because of you. I shall take no pleasure in telling your supporters that they have only themselves to thank for another war and the loss of human life for caprice.

Yes, while I suspect this plea will be wholly ignored, I also implore all people living in the United States to resist the New Fascism, for us all to stand in solidarity, to work together to ensure that your threat to democracy does not prevail. Mr. Trump, “Have you no decency sir?”

I shall end this letter asking everyone: who will you take action to stand with and harbor? Sweet Honey in the Rock: Would You Harbor Me?

Post-Truth: The New Order

5 Dec

post-truth-bannerThe Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has named Post-Truth  as the word of the year for 2016. Post-Truth is defined as:

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief: in this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire. (OED)

The New Order: I do wonder if anyone else has thought to use that framework. I suspect one would have to be familiar with facts and not just feelings to know the answer to that. Yes, one would have to know history. Sadly, we in the United States have demonstrated we cannot be bothered with facts or history. We seem to pride our selves in ignorance, as we show great disdain of science and facts; we steep ourselves in jingoism, racism, misogyny, and homophobia.

Given the recent election for President in the United States, it seems abundantly clear that post-truth is in fact the word of the year. What do we do now? My question for those who voted for Trump is when will you take action to put his administration in check? Will you take action when he deports members of the Latino community? Will you take action when he creates a registry for Muslims? Will you create resistance when he tries to criminalize what is protected under the first amendment?  Will you protest when police, health care workers, and all service providers can deny LGBT people necessary services based on Pence’s perverted idea of “Religious Freedom”? When will you take action? How will you explain to our youth that actually it is categorically unacceptable to sexually or physically assault women, when the leader of the free world has tried to normalize it? Will you step up to the plate and help to STOP normalizing racism?

This denial of science and facts in favor of feelings not only seems absurd, but shows great hubris in our collective disregard for history. I’m waiting for climate change deniers to tell me the earth is flat. I fear that if Galileo were alive today, we would once again imprison him. If the Trump administration shapes up the way it looks like it will, he won’t be lonely.

Now is the time for us all to keep vigilant and engage in honest reflection. We need to pay close attention to Trump’s cabinet and the civil rights of all targeted people that are now in peril. I would maintain that all the white people who supported Trump because they are feeling disenfranchised, this is the time for you to keep vigilant; this is not a president who cares about you or your family. Here is evidence to support my claim. Trump has appointed Steven Mnuchin Secretary of the Treasury. You remember Mnuchin: he headed the foreclosure machine in California, profiting from the loss of homes by millions of Americans. Can someone tell me how this is Trump “draining the swamp?”

Call To Action: all of us need to be accountable in demanding facts and not feelings. Your belief in something does not make it true, even if Faux news repeats it every 17 minutes. As the post-truth administration takes power, let us  insist on policy based on facts and established rights, not the whims of the angry, manipulated minority.

Death Knell For the Republican Party

26 Aug

That tea bag sure doesn’t cover much…

As the GOP Convention grows ever nearer and the Republican Platform is now in place, I have to reflect and mourn for what was the Republican Party. While I actually probably identify as a socialist, I am, nevertheless, forlorn at the demise of what was the Republican Party, or more specifically in despair at what has replaced the GOP. For those paying attention and not watching Fox (Faux) News, it is painfully clear that ignorant white “christian” racist, homophobic, women hating heterosexuals known as the Tea Party have taken the GOP hostage and have bullied their way into controlling a discourse that affects an entire nation.

I simply cannot understand how any Gay, Black, Latino, Poor, Woman and the myriad other marginalized people would vote for the lying bigots that are Romney and Ryan.  For those who discarded Michele Bachmann, I have to ask, “have you not noticed that she and Ryan are basically twins?”  They have identical voting records: both consistently vote against women, against the LGBT community, against the middle class, and both are millionaires.

Unfortunately, I had to listen to the lying bigot Romeny address an uber conservative population in Ohio and his exact words were: “It is time to get a Republican back in the White House.”  Ick, Ick, Ick!  This is not the sentiment of what is best for Americans, but rather Romney has demonstrated complete partisanship as well as his own pathological narcissism as his driving force.

How embarrassing is it that we have a political party that stands on the principles of hate?  What message does this send to the rest of the world?  Do Romney, Ryan et al have any idea of what the word Fascism means?  Two white (allegedly heterosexual) men making decisions about women’s health and agreeing with Todd (Mr. Misogyny) Akins as well as saying they want to repeal all civil rights gained by the LGBT community, while protecting the 5% of the wealthiest Americans.  Someone please jump in here and help me understand why anyone would vote for these people?  Never mind the loss of the party of Lincoln; this is not the party of Gerald Ford, of Eisenhower, and it most certainly is not even the party of their much heralded Ronald Reagan.  This political party is the party of white right wing religious extremists.  I only hope America is paying attention and not buying into the insurmountable lies from these rancid tea bags.

Dear Dr. Mark Regnerus and Other Homophobic Bigots…

24 Jun

Who Cares About Science?

I was fortunate enough to get a great many responses to my BWA for Mark Regnerus.  Along with the responses came many wonderful ideas for a call to action.  I would like to share a key call to action and I have to thank Scott Rose from The New Civil Rights Movement for leaving this item on my blog. I also need to thank my friend and ally Sara Swain.

First, one needs to point out just some of the flawed science of Dr. Regnerus: the core of Regnerus’ analysis is “kin altruism”, the biological tie between parent and child, a mythical sine qua non in securing the stability required for children to thrive. That stability can come ONLY from this mythical kin altruism, and children can thrive ONLY with this kin-altruism-derived stability. Ergo, ONLY those children raised by their biological parent(s) (who are presumably not drunkards, abusive, mentally deranged, etc.) have the potential for the kind of positive outcomes Regnerus is seeking–I would love to see some meaningful data he had, presuming Dr. Regnerus knows what that is.

Take Action:

Here is just a snippet of the action Scott Rose took and I encourage all LGBT folk and our allies to take similar action:

William Powers, Jr.
University of Texas, Austin
Office of the President
Main Building 400 (G3400)
Austin, Texas 78713-8920

In Re: Scientific Misconduct Complaint against UTA’s Mark D. Regnerus

Dear President Powers:

I have filed, through the “EthicsPoint” online system, a complaint against UTA’s Mark D. Regnerus for Scientific Misconduct in violation of UTA’s Academic Dishonesty Policy, which forbids use of misinformation to hurt others.

Please respond promptly to this letter, which is being published at http://www.TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com

Here are some facts of the case:

1)        This is not a complaint that UTA Mark D. Regnerus is active politically. The complaint rather is that Regnerus took money from political persons and groups to further their political goals, and in preparing a study for them, rushed it through production for their use in the 2012 elections, though Regnerus himself has stated in a video interview given to the Daily Texan’s Hannah Jane Deciutus that his methodology for the study does not work “to the long-term benefit of science.” In other words, in order to retain a large grant from political organizations, a) Regnerus knowingly failed to uphold acceptable standards for his discipline, and b) knowingly rushed through his study in time for his funders to use it in the 2012 elections, instead of c) working professionally to produce a study that would work “to the long-term benefit of science.” In that, Professor Regnerus’s behavior is antithetical to the raison d’être of a university.

Please contact the University of Texas, Austin and let President Powers hear our collective voice that homophobic non-science is not acceptable!

Methinks the Homophobes Protest Too Much…

10 Apr

...maybe it's even you.

Well fetch my smelling salts! A new study adds strong evidence that people who demonstrate the greatest antipathy toward LGBT people have strong same-sex attractions themselves. The research, which will be published the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, was conducted in the U.S. and U.K. and used four different experiments. The authors of the study note:

Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves… In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward.

Consider this the latest gospel in the Ted Haggard memorial bible of There But For the Grace…

While it’s easy to be smug about this further evidence that the bigots have some serious rainbow garments hiding in their closets, this study also goes to show that

  • as long as our government continues to create second-class status and separate-but-equal laws for LGBT citizens
  • as long as our schools refuse to take a strict stand against bullying and allow students to treat their peers as lesser people
  • as long as we allow “religious exemptions” to civil rights, giving bigotry the force of law

we continue to set up a world where far too many people believe that their own same-sex attractions are something to fear and hate. When that toxicity bubbles over, everyone suffers, especially those who are able to be happy with who they are. That irony must end. Let’s hope this new evidence finally moves our society to embrace all people equally and helps those with doubt to find the strength to love themselves so they can stop hating others.

John Amaechi’s Response to Kobe Bryant

16 Apr

A True Role Model

John Amaechi is the former N.B.A. player who came out of the closet and identifies as a gay man. His comments regarding Kobe Bryant’s gay slur are worth noting. First, I think all of us need to know that Bryant is now appealing the $100,000 fine, less than pocket change for him. I will be contacting Nike again to get their response.  I’m not encouraged.  The interview I had with Nike left me with the feeling that they will support him regardless, thus not having any substance behind their diversity statement. Bryant’s apology is seemingly more and more like hollow words recommended by his PR person. My faith in Nike is now also starting to deteriorate.  Nike’s continued support of Kobe sends a clear message that it will continue to be unsafe for gay athletes to live their lives honestly. If we are to really believe both Bryant and Nike, Bryant will not only pay the fine, but donate his time and money to an LGBT cause, as Nike should be donating some money to an LGBT cause. Amaechi does a lovely job with this brief summary and analysis:

When someone with the status of Kobe Bryant, arguably the best basketball player in a generation, hurls that antigay slur at a referee or anyone else — let’s call it the F-word — he is telling boys, men and anyone watching that when you are frustrated, when you are as angry as can be, the best way to demean and denigrate a person, even one in a position of power, is to make it clear that you think he is not a real man, but something less.

I challenge you to freeze-frame Bryant’s face in that moment of conflict with the referee Bennie Adams. Really examine the loathing and utter contempt, and realize this is something with which almost every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person is familiar. That is the sentiment people face in middle and high schools, in places of worship, work and even in their own homes across the United States.

Right now in America young people are being killed and killing themselves simply because of the words and behaviors they are subjected to for being perceived as lesbian or gay, or frankly just different. This is not an indictment of the individuals suffocated by their mistreatment, it is an indication of the power of that word, and others like it, to brutalize and dehumanize. This F-word, which so many people seem to think is no big deal, is the postscript to too many of those lives cut short.

For me, it has become clear that this is not just a case of homophobia, but that there are different rules for the super rich and for celebrities.  I am just horribly saddened that Kobe Bryant is a hero for anyone.  You know this is not a good person when Dick Cheney says: “I really need to get to know that good guy Kobe.”  Click here for the full article.

Wednesday Word of the Week: February 16

16 Feb

Not all theories are created equal.

The word of the week is SCIENCE.

the study and knowledge of the physical world and its behavior that is based on experiments and facts that can be proved and is organized into a system –  Macmillan Dictionary online

The word science derives from the Latin word scire (“to know”); it probably comes originally from a Greek root meaning to cut apart. The basic concept of science is to pick things apart until you know everything you can about them. Good science derives from principles of observation, analysis, and conclusion, not from preconceptions.

The United States government has not been friendly to science so far this millennium. The Bush administration was so hostile to science that over 6,000 scientists petitioned the White House to restore integrity to scientific processes in policymaking. There was no change in behavior; arguably the title of the petition was too complex for W.

Facts are not science as the dictionary is not literature. Martin H. Fischer

In an age of dogma and polarization, science is highly vulnerable to opinionated screeching. Good science is a plodding process that makes mistakes and learns from them; it grows over time. It has flashes of insight and occasional leaps of understanding, but it is fundamentally incremental. Ask a good scientist for an explanation and you will get a complex answer. Ask a demagogue and you will get a fact of at best marginal relevance, shouted with conviction.

The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions. Claude Lévi-Strauss, Le Cru et le cuit, 1964

“Look at all this snow; guess global warming is a myth.” That kind of approach to science is favored by the dogmatists. Here is a fact (too much snow), let’s use it to support our cause (business over environment) even though scientifically it means nothing. The Right wing is masterful at using irrelevant time-specific facts to cloud issues and distract listeners. If they are really lucky, they’ll get junk scientists to conduct flawed studies that support their claims.

The forces of homophobia trot out a handful of studies that they say prove what a dangerous “lifestyle” homosexuality is. If one uses the scientific method to analyze these studies, however, one finds that they all track back to the work of Paul Cameron. Cameron used (wait for it) obituaries from selected papers to prove that gay men died young. His methods were so superficial and flawed that the American Psychiatric Association dropped his membership in 1983. The Right wing still uses his studies as the foundation of their “scientific” objection to people against whom they wish to discriminate.

The same kind of answers before questions approach is also used in the anti-choice arguments. Abortion foes use flawed studies that they maintain prove that women suffer great psychological harm and high risks of breast cancer following abortions. These conclusions, like the work depending on Cameron, stem from a very small sample of deeply flawed studies. The vast body of research debunks and demolishes these claims. The Right still trumpets them, maintaining that they have “science” on their side.

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

If the dogmatists can’t find junk science to prop up their positions, they’ll practice misdirection and invention. The shining example of this is the invention of “Intelligent Design” to counter evolution. Wishing to hold fast to a superstitious, biblical explanation of human development, the fundamentalists latch onto the phrase “theory of evolution” and maintain that they are entitled to equal airtime for their own theory. Two problems:

  1. In the scientific method, a theory is like a mathematical theorem, something that has been hypothesized and then substantiated through research.
  2. While the bible is an interesting cultural record and occasionally inspiring piece of literature, it has no science in it whatsoever.

Demanding that our children be taught that we might all be here because some big white guy with a fluffy beard waved his wand 6,000 years ago and that this bit of superstition merits balanced presentation with over a century of hard science is absurd in the extreme. As a scholar of Carroll and Orwell, I can’t imagine a proposition that would have appealed to them more as the basis of a story.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but they are not entitled to their own facts. – Daniel Patrick Moynihan, U.S. Senator (D, NY)

Science is a real word with real meaning. People with agendas will try to ignore it, distort it, or misappropriate it to fit their needs. Thinking people must not let them. When presented with a “fact” or an argument or a study, one must ask hard questions and demand hard proof. Basing our lives and our futures on anything less is like running into traffic without looking just because you believe you can make it across the road. There’s a big truck of reality coming, and the dogmatists are just about to push our nation in front of it.

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