Did Religion Make America go Nuts?

January 29, 2018

The increasing domination of Republican grass roots by, well, let’s face it, Religious nut jobs, has lead the party to embrace the paranoid and irrational, while fleeing the discipline of reason and evidence.
I have no quarrel with sincere spiritual feeling or insight, but using religion as an excuse for paranoia, hatred and racism is one of history’s oldest con games.

Hence, Obama born in Kenya, Mexico will pay for wall, there is no climate change.

In a related development:


This morning Fox & Friends, Donald Trump’s favorite TV show, ran a segment on the deadly flu season, which has killed at least 37 children so far. Dr. Marc Siegel, a practicing physician and Fox News contributor, suggested various techniques to avoiding contracting or spreading the flu and emphasized the importance of getting a flu shot.

“The flu shot, which I still say everybody out there should get, is about 30-percent effective, but it actually decreases spread around the household, it decreases severity, and it’s very smart to get it. Of the children that have died, 80 percent of them in the past hadn’t gotten a flu shot,” Siegel said.

At the very end of the segment, Siegel asked if the three Fox hosts — Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Ainsley Earhardt — had gotten their flu shot. “No, I have not gotten one,” Kilmeade said.

Earhardt then revealed that Kilmeade refuses to get flu shots. Kilmeade confirmed that and dismissed flu shots as only 30 percent effective — a point that Siegel had already addressed. When Siegel told Kilmeade he should get the flu shot to protect his children, Kilmeade said that he would not because his kids needed to “build up their immunity.”

Kilmeade’s banter parrots dangerous anti-vaccine conspiracies. According to the CDC, even if a flu vaccine doesn’t prevent the flu, “vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.” It has also been proven “that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza,” according to a 2017 study.

A new CDC study published today in Pediatrics is the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza. The study, which looked at data from four flu seasons between 2010 and 2014, found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children. The study findings underscore the importance of the recommendation by CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics that all children 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine.


32 Responses to “Did Religion Make America go Nuts?”

  1. dodgeblue Says:

    While, as a scientist, I thoroughly enjoy reading the Climate Crock emails, this one brushed with a very broad brush stroke. I, like many scientists, am also religious, in this case Catholic. Catholics are fairly scientific progressive, especially on climate change. let’s be a little bit careful in our writings sir, as we don’t need to alienate friends. Thanks,

    Ventura, CA

    • greenman3610 Says:

      No problem with real spirituality. The “religion” that has been ascendant politically in the west is mostly of the phony, Barnum and Bailey kind.
      The Vatican employs some of the most highly respected scientists in the world.
      You may have seen my piece on the Pope and climate change.

      • A couple of months ago, I attended ““A View from the Vatican: Climate Change, Air Pollution and Health as our Responsibility” at UCSD.

        The lead speaker was Veerbhadran Ramanathan, one of the leading scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who is also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Dr. Ramanathan has the Pope’s ear regarding climate change.

        The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has 80 distinguished scientists, 30 of whom are Nobel laureates. Dr. Ramanathan said that Pope Francis takes them very seriously and listens closely to their advice.

        I came away with the impression that the scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography practically consider Pope Francis a hero. Religious or not, they think very highly of him.

        Below is a link to a pic of one of the slides that was presented at the program — it is a picture of a pro-Pope poster that was taken by one of the scientists who had gone to a conference at the Vatican last fall.


  2. Phil Scadden Says:

    Both science and effective policy making depend on the discipline of critical thinking which sure as heck doesnt come naturally. I am not in USA, but given its weird history with religion, I wonder whether education has run away from teaching these skills because of a perception that these would weaken religious beliefs.

    I also find US “Christianity” terrifying – a tribal identity rather than a faithfulness to Gospel. I guess pastors happy to preach a extremely warped version of scripture that panders to a conservative identity get large followings and influence.
    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

    I struggle to see how the US Evangelicals can get such a different perspective of the prophets and gospels.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      “I struggle to see how the US Evangelicals can get such a different perspective”


      There are ~30,000 different divisions of Christianity. They all use the same sourcebook, a completely incoherent (meaning it constantly contradicts itself) lollapalooza of nonsense.

      And you shake your head at the Evangelicals, because *they* (according to you) have it gotten it so wrong! Pretty funny! 😀

      • Phil Scadden Says:

        Whether you regard it as nonsense or not, you can use plain ordinary textual analysis to look at what the authors of the bible bits thought and believed. You can use analysis to look at questions like “what are the common themes in prophets/gospels”; “what aspects of society did the prophets claim were an abomination to God” etc. Do that and you end up with lists that should make US evangelicals very uncomfortable indeed.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          Oh, please. Every Christian sect uses the Bible cafeteria-style. They select the passages they happen to like, and reject the ones they don’t.

          Nobody follows all the texts, because it is impossible to do so. Virtually every single thing the Bible says in one place is contradicted in another. Which is why I said it is completely incoherent.

          And then, each sect sanctifies the positions its governors take on Biblical exegesis. So you get complete dishonesty about scripture being touted as if it were Gospel (pun intended).

          Take the use of the Bible as a source of moral truth about abortion. Every abortion group does. And most Christians sects are against abortion and for “the sanctity” of life. The Bible, of course, says neither thing. Indeed, it puts a low monetary price on the value of an unborn child lost through violence.

          So, keep looking down on your Evangelical brethren. And they will do the same to you. And both of you will be equally justified.

          • Phil Scadden Says:

            I am not touting an alternative sects beliefs about the bible, only to the discrepency between what US evangelicals in particular seem to think and what you can get from tools of textual analysis no different from you would apply to say Shakespeare or William Faulkner. Leave the theologians exigetic toolkit out of the equation completely. Call it an athetists view then on the what the prophets valued.

            Abortion is complex in any attempt at a moral framework let alone a Christian one. If you believe life begins at conception, (a value statement with no objective truth), then abortion is killing. If you think life begins at birth, then restricting abortion is abuse of individual rights and unrelated to anyones view on sanctity of life or not. Societies generally need some degree of inflicting a majority view on values on individuals (we dont like killing or stealing as a rule and dont permit someone to be allowed an individual view on it) so good luck on that conflict. I frankly think you have to go with majority view.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            GB gets it. The “christian bible” should be looked at as a piece of literature based on (some) history and laden with “messages” that humans in their hubris think have “meaning” for them. There are many hundreds of versions of the bible in English and it has been translated into thousands of languages. Of course, these versions all differ from one another in that portions that are included in some are left out of others, and there have been accusations of “hanky-panky” down through the centuries about “lost” books. There is controversy over the translation of the very first editions of the bible from the archaic (or extinct) versions of Greek, Hebrew that they were written in. (And one of the most interesting theories I have come across while studying the origins of the bible is that Jesus was invented by the Romans—-a peace-preaching hippie designed to distract the Jews from the guerilla warfare they were waging against the Roman occupiers of the “holy” land).


            Apply “tools of textual analysis”, Phil says? And leave exigetics out of the equation? Without exigetics, rhe bible is, as I said, just a piece of literature, and a lot more boring than Shakespeare or Faulkner.

            And then there’s abortion, and the hypocrisy of caring so much for the “unborn” while slaughtering each other after birth down through history. Phil also says “If you believe life begins at conception, (a value statement with no objective truth), then abortion is killing. To inject some science into that, egg and sperm are “alive” before they meet in any organism that reproduces sexually, and once they successfully combine, a development process begins that will ultimately produce an independent “living” organism able to survive on its own—-no “value” statement at all, just FACT. Abortion IS “killing”, just like picking fruits and vegetables or using a chicken for food—-the question of a “soul” and when a human becomes a human and whether humans have any more “spiritual” value than a chicken is “exigetics”.

            PS Explore “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” for some insight into Genesis

  3. botterd Says:

    The idea that people are free to indulge in religious ideas or feelings as long as they are private (not in public discourse, hidden from view at home) is absolutely not a viable opinion. People who believe that religion presents one with absolute imperatives that informs practical action and therefore also political action cannot possibly think simultaneously that such absolute imperatives are personal preferences completely irrelevant to public discourse, like preferring peanut butter to chocolate spread on your toast.
    Fundamental beliefs and inspiration belong in public view and discussion and always have. The separation between church and state is generally misunderstood as though religion and politics never mix. This is a complete failure to grasp that separating institutions (much as the trias politica, or treasurer/controller/accountant) does not and cannot imply chopping up reality in little parts. There is no such easy solution to clashing claims, although there is a way to live together peacably regardless.
    The first amendment is not only or even primarily about being able to say anything you like, but is in the first place a protection for conscience as inviolate. Freedom of speech as the expression of (religious) conscience is important precisely because basic convictions are often not reducible to evidence or deduction, and therefore cannot be “resolved” on the basis of argument.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      “The idea that people are free to indulge in religious ideas or feelings as long as they are private (not in public discourse, hidden from view at home) is absolutely not a viable opinion. ”

      Really, says who? Because we have a word for life that forgoes the religious – “Secular”. There are, actually, huge chunks of civilization that are secular which accomplish very good things. Things like science, philosophy, art, literature.

      The fact that we have a Constitutional Amendment in the U.S. which protects an individual’s right to practice his religion does not mean that we need must to countenance or value religious opinion anywhere.

      • botterd Says:

        Of course you can forego entertaining any religious ideas or feelings, but a purely secular approach is also part of the gamut of ideas. What will not solve anything is to tell them to go about it privately as though it is a mere personal preference. That does not work for people who are secular either. Nobody has to value others’ opinions either. But it is important that people not be forced to act against their convictions; doing so precludes living side by side peacably. Telling or forcing people to keep it private is not a way around the discord that exists.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          There are varying ideas around the world about how secular the public space should be. Seeing how, even in America, those of us who do not have or want religion as an important part of their life are actually the single largest religious identity, it would not seem unethical to me that we might choose to have the public space as secular as possible.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          “it is important that people not be forced to act against their convictions;”

          Riiiiiight… convictions like slavery based on an assumption of the inferiority of darker races, or the existence of race in the first place, like the rightness of human sacrifice, convictions that no one owning or working, well, anywhere–hobby store, hospital, police and fire departments–should be forced to serve anyone they don’t want to (euphemistically, “have a moral objection to”) like gay people, Black people, Hispanics, women, disabled people, White people, anyone who’s ever been in the military or voted Republican, people who fail a religious test, an IQ test, a pregnancy test, a test on climate knowledge (for example, anyone who accepts climate science can’t get treated at my hospital)… All these can be cast as religious principles, in fact most of them have been. Only the progressive ones haven’t.

          It IS a mere personal preference, but forcing people to keep those things “private”–whatever that means–certainly is no solution to anything.

  4. Ron Voisin Says:

    Magical thinking:

    1) Wind and solar are economically viable
    2) Wind and solar produce free energy
    3) The Paris agreement will make future climate more favorable
    4) Economic development has been decoupled from energy use
    5) Climate science is settled
    6) Socialism can make America better
    7) Equality of outcome is desirable and should be legislated
    8) etc.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      You nailed it with that #8), Ron. I see a Nobel Prize in your future!

    • I found a real gem of Voisin’s over at WUWT that shows how completely incompetent he is.

      From https://archive.is/fDQb1:

      “How can it be made clearer that CO2 is currently rising and varying for natural cause?”

      Oh, FFS!

      Proving that humans are responsible for the 40+% rise in CO2 since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution is a junior-high conservation of mass problem. Anyone who seriously believes that natural sources are responsible for that increase has rocks in his/her head.

      Anyway, I’ll be happy to walk folks through the (simple) math, but I want to give Voisin a crack at it first.

      I’ll spot him this: Cumulative human CO2 emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution have totaled approximately 2 trillion metric tons. Let’s see if he can convert that to PPM in the atmosphere.

      Folks, there are a lot of engineers out there (especially retired engineers) who aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are, and Ron Voisin is a classic example.

      • Almost forgot — H/T to hotwhopper.com for the juicy WUWT material.

      • OK, I gave Voisin a few days to follow up; that was plenty of time for him to come back and demonstrate that he has the junior-high to high-school scientific expertise needed to tackle the problem.

        Below is a step-by-step summary of the calculations, presented in a way that even the most die-hard climate-science “skeptics” should be able to follow.

        The total mass of the Earth’s atmosphere is 5.15e18 kg (easily verified via Google, or you can get a decent ballpark estimate by multiplying the average atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface by the Earth’s surface area).

        The average molecular mass of the atmosphere is about 29 AMU (Atomic Mass Units) — easy to calculate via a weighted average of the O2 and N2 molecular mass (trace gases can be safely ignored here).

        The total number of moles of gas in the Earth’s atmosphere is
        5.15e21 grams/(29 grams/mole) = 1.8e20 moles. (Skeptics — don’t forget that a kilogram is 1000 grams).

        As I stated in my previous comment here, humans have put about 2 trillion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (Google is our friend here).

        Remember that a metric ton is 1,000 kilograms and a kilogram is 1,000 grams. So there are 1000*1000=1e6 grams in a metric ton.

        That means 2 trillion (2e12) tons of CO2 is 2e12*1e6=2e18 grams of CO2.

        The molecular mass of CO2 is 44 (Mr. Voisin, feel free to consult your local periodic table for details).

        The total number of moles of CO2 added to the atmosphere by human activities is 2e18 grams/(44 grams/mole) = 4.5e16 moles.

        So the total mole-fraction of human-added CO2 to the atmosphere is:

        4.5e16 moles CO2 /(1.8e20 moles atmosphere+4.5e16 moles CO2) = 0.00025.

        (I included the CO2 moles in the denominator for silly pedantic purposes; that number is so tiny relative to the #moles in the atmosphere that it really doesn’t matter in the calculations).

        To convert the human-added CO2 mole-fraction to PPM, simply multiply 0.00025 by 1 million aka 1e6 and we get (drum-roll…)

        0.00025*1e6=250 PPM!

        That’s right — humans have added enough CO2 to the atmosphere to raise the atmospheric CO2 concentration by about 250 PPM.

        The actual increase has been about half of that, so if we very cleverly apply a concept known as “conservation of mass”, we can conclude that natural processes have been *removing* CO2 from the atmosphere (as opposed to adding it as many clueless “skeptics” like to claim).

        So, Mr. Voisin, did you get all that?

  5. mboli Says:

    Kilmeade there is a real jaw-dropper.

    Riddle me this, Mr. Kilmeade. How is inoculating your children with flu vaccine NOT strengthening their immune systems? What do you think a vaccine is?

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Precisely! 🙂

      He probably sees vaccines as dangerous “Handouts”, which, like welfare checks and “free” health care, weaken moral fiber and produce lazy dependency. In the poor, of course, in the poor.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      WordPress ate a comment—-annoying! Try again.

      You ask Kilmeade to THINK? Kilmeade is a talking pile of s**t who works for Faux News, and “thinking” is not a skill set required for those who work there.

      Religion has been part of human “nuttiness” ever since humans started living in groups larger than a single family. Along with “head men” (bullshitting politicians) and “enforcers’ (warlords and generals), there have always been priests-shamans-story tellers to help the rulers fool the masses, maintain control, and pass the collection basket. (And no women allowed).

      So what else is new?

  6. Gingerbaker Says:

    Title of this article:

    “Did Religion Make America go Nuts?”

    Religion has been making people go nuts for thousands of years. And it always always starts by breaking the logic centers, the very rational minds, of innocent little kids. It always always starts by training defenseless minds that they must accept and believe ideas which are nonsense, very stupid, and often very cruel.

    The world is a heart-breakingly and tragically illogical place for lots of reasons, but religion probably takes the cake.

  7. Sir Charles Says:

    Religion and guns, yeah.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Guns make people go nuts?

      Mike the Mad Biologist at his blog of the same name and worth checking out, says the same as you. He actually has made several posts positing that “guns make people stupid”.

      I told him I think that is a pretty stupid argument, seeing as how the percentage of gun owners who use their weapons to harm someone else unethically is a number which properly rounds down to zero.

      And so is the percentage of guns owned by Americans which are involved in something untoward – a percentage so small as to properly rounded down to zero.

      Gun violence is a difficult problem because almost all guns and gun owners behave quite responsibly. The havoc is caused by a very few people. And is, best as I can tell, primarily associated with drugs and gangs. Just like when Al Capone was shooting up Chicago. End drug Prohibition, end most of the problem, one would think.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        But gun ownership, unlike religion, is not a deliberate manipulation designed specifically to forever break your facultative abilities. There is a pretty big distinction, imo.

  8. Phil Scadden Says:

    dumboldguy, sigh. This is still missing the point. Basically, no argument with your points but they were not relevant.

    The prophets, (basically Moses to Jesus) were believed by the writers of the books to be proclaiming what God them to. No matter what version you take, the substantive content is pretty much same. Furthermore, Christians are people who on the whole agree with the writers of the books that the prophets (esp Jesus) heard the word of God.

    Ergo, I would expect someone with those beliefs to care quite a bit about the content of those works. So little things like word frequency, repeated themes, common theme would matter. Its awfully hard to escape the themes of challenge to power, care for the most helpless (the widow and the alien in that society), and justice.

    “Christians” that are more worried about what people do in the bedroom rather the boardroom are missing that.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      It is now consensus that Moses was not a real person, he was a literary invention. As was the the idea of Jews as Egyptian slaves, and the Exodus wandering of the Jews in the desert for forty years. Basically, the entire philosophical basis of Judaism is a gigantic steaming pile of bull****. (And I am Jewish).

      Likewise, Jesus Christ is almost certainly an invented figure, just like the 10,000 gods invented by tribesmen before him. Even lettered Christian apologists concede that the Jesus of the Bible is nothing like the Jesus that billions of Christians believe is going to give them an afterlife. (Strange, isn’t it, that the most erudite in Christianity have opinions which are not ever transmitted to the masses, as opposed to virtually every other field known to man)

      As for God, he or she seems to give every indication of being perfectly non-existent, as children dying in agony from cancer would seem to demonstrate pretty eloquently.

      All this kinda throws a monkey wrench into your “heard the word of God” hypothesis, I would think?

      • dumboldguy Says:

        IMO, the Christ of the Christian “religion” is just a reprise of the many resurrection or rebirth myths “believed” by peoples all over the globe.—-Horus, Osiris, Attis, Adonis, Mithras, Quetzalcoatl, and a number of Norse, Greek, and Roman gods.

        The only evidence of a “god” that I can see is the natural world and the laws that govern it. One need only step out the door and look at the world and wonder where it all came from.

        As GB states, there does not appear to be any god involved in the foolishness that has resulted from the evolution of the human species to the point that we can delude ourselves about the reality of our existence—-i.e., that we are not simply another animal like all others (albeit one with an overactive and often evil brain).

        If god exists, he is cruel and uncaring, and his advocates in the Christian and Muslim religions seem more interested in perpetuating their own institutions and power than in improving the human condition—and remember, no (or very few) women allowed.

      • Phil Scadden Says:

        It still feels like you are striking at shadows instead of talking to me. I’m over here. I dont have a problem with what you are saying. What “heard the word of God” hypothesis? I am not claiming that prophets heard the word of God, or even that they existed. The people that eventually wrote wrote it down, believed it however, and so supposedly do Christians. However, the problem remains that to me that the message in those writings is a protest and a cry for justice, whereas what US evangelicals seem to hear is conservative affirmation of injustice, inequality and racism. That is what I dont get (well actually I do but in a shake my head in despair kind of way).

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