Climate Change: If we pretend it isn’t happening, will it go away?

Source: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Author: Lawrence Krauss

I happened to be in Canberra last week as the Australian government repealed its tax on carbon emissions, which has required the country’s biggest emitters to pay as much as 25 Australian dollars (about $23.50, US) per metric ton of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere. With the vote in the Australian Senate, following a previous vote in the House of Representatives, Australia—one of the world’s largest per capita emitters of carbon—moved from being well ahead of the international curve to the back of the pack when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The climate change debate that has raged in the public forum in Australia—and, in similar form, in the United States—has unfortunately been governed more by politics, ideology, and money than by facts. For example, much to my dismay, after appearing on a television program in Australia, on which I ended up debating a senator from the governing Liberal Party on issues that included climate change, I offered to come to his office to show him data on climate trends, including sea level rise and ocean acidification, with the hope that the data might affect the policies he advocated. He told me that he wasn’t interested in such a discussion, because he had a constituency that supported his current opposition to carbon emission controls, and that is what mattered to him.

Of course, as a scientist, I feel particularly strongly that the public is ill served by politicians who ignore empirical evidence while making and speaking out on policy. But as the dramatic Australian vote made news worldwide, another, less-publicized set of legislative actions took place in the United States, and they could wind up being even more insidious than the Australian climate change retreat. Rather than ignore the science associated with climate change predictions, one house of the US Congress attempted to ensure that the appropriate science on climate change would simply be discontinued.

On July 10, the House approved the fiscal 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill on a 253-170 vote. In the bill, Congress unfortunately cut funding for such things as renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and energy efficiency; perhaps even more worrisome, however, were a series of amendments successfully attached to the bill. Each would, in its own way, specifically prohibit scientists at the Energy Department from doing precisely what Congress should mandate them to do—namely perform the best possible scientific research to illuminate, for policymakers, the likelihood and possible consequences of climate change.

Oklahoma Republican Congressman James Lankford’s amendment prohibited funding for “proposing or implementing any executive order related to the ‘social cost of carbon.’” In this way, the Energy Department would presumably be prohibited from embarking on studies that might calculate the possible benefits of legislation that limits carbon dioxide emissions or the economic risks associated with climate change.

A second amendment by Arizona Republican Paul Gosar prohibited funding for the Energy Department’s Climate Model Development and Validation program. One of the things that climate change deniers often pull out of their hats when arguing against acting to stem climate change is a claimed skepticism about the validity of existing climate models. I have recently countered one such skeptic on television here in Australia by accepting this skepticism—and then challenging him to present what his models predicted.  (Of course he didn’t have any).  The point was not merely rhetorical. If there is serious concern about the robustness of ongoing climate modeling, it is inconsistent with a desire to prohibit scientists from being able to improve their models.

A third science-defunding amendment, this time pushed by West Virginia Republican David McKinley, would prohibit the Energy Department from supporting climate change activities associated with the National Climate Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. 
That’s right: The Energy Department would be prohibited from responding to the two landmark reports that reflect the best international scientific scholarship available on climate modeling and the possible impacts of human greenhouse gas production, locally, nationally, and internationally.

It is one thing to decide, as the Australian government has sadly done, that short-term political expediency trumps long-term policy goals when it comes to reducing the impact of climate change. It is another, however, to decide that the very possibility of human-induced climate change is so contrary to what one would like to believe—that scientific activities capable of producing factual results running counter to this belief are so threatening—that any such science should be prohibited.

The House appropriations bill is not likely to become law in its current form. The White House has already signaled its intent to veto the bill; the Senate would undoubtedly require changes before the bill came anywhere close to the president’s signing desk. Still, the intent of these amendments, and the fact that they could pass a house of Congress, should concern everyone interested in the appropriate support of scientific research as a basis for sound public policy. The analogy of an ostrich burying its head in the sand to avoid danger is clichéd but, even so, particularly appropriate to this case. An ostrich that buried its head in the sand on an ocean beach would seem particularly poorly situated to avoid a possibly rising tide. Sillier still: The ostrich that, with its head underground, refused to allow others to keep watch, to see if the tide comes in.

Emphasis Mine


Journalistic Malpractice: The Media Enables the Right-Wing Politicization of Science

Source: The Nation, via AlterNet

Author: Reed Richardson

We’re at a particularly hyper-partisan moment in our country. As such, one would think the existence of a scientific consensus on a policy issue would offer the mainstream media a welcome oasis from the mirage of social media myths and the desert of dueling soundbites that all too often crowd out informed comment. Using such a consensus as a no bullshit baseline, an objective journalist could more honestly explore opposing arguments, measure them against evidence, and judge their veracity. This is no small thing, because if modern journalism is to continue to live up to its Constitutional promise, it can’t merely be about telling the who, what,when and where of the world any more, it must go beyond that to explain the how and why.

But time and again, the establishment media fails at reaching this higher bar. Instead of contextualizing policy debates by weaving in extant scientific knowledge or academic research, the national press all too readily churns out formulaic stories filled with superficial horserace reporting. A press corps so consistently unmoored from facts becomes very vulnerable, however, when one of our nation’s two political parties undertakes a proverbial war on science. With very little effort, policy debates can get hijacked and devolve from discussing relevant facts to lobbing ad hominem insults. This simple-minded journalistic approach renders the underlying science of any issue moot. But it’s a safer career move, since it just wouldn’t do well for an “objective” journalist to always be pointing out that, on issue after issue, one party has become fully detached from scientific reality. In a “both sides do it” media culture, no party or ideology can ever lose legitimacy, no matter how crackpot its ideas about how the world works.

Exhibit A in the mainstream media’s failure to execute this due diligence is its consistently ill-informed climate change coverage. Even though an overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is real and man-made, the media rarely, if ever, treats this mountain of evidence as a given. Instead, it treats this reality very much like a battle of opinions or, more accurately, of belief systems: Liberals believe in climate change, conservatives don’t. Climate change is not an ideological principle or a policy outcome about which reasonable people can disagree, though; it’s an observable phenomenon. So when the media enables anyone to deny the existence of climate change, it is tantamount to journalistic malpractice.

Nevertheless, this malpractice happens every single day. Whether pigeonholing global warming as a niche topic,soliciting denialist voices and granting them an outsized platform, or outright disappearing of the crisis, the press regularly plays into conservatives’ hands, helping them manufacture dissent and sow confusion amongst the public even though none exists in the scientific community. Among Tea Partiers, disbelief in anthropogenic climate change has become something of an article of faith, so much so that, contra the parable of Noah, no amount of catastrophic warnings can change their stubborn minds. And in much the same way that Pope Urban VIII’s Vatican concocted an “investigation” to disprove Galileo’s proof of a sun-centered solar system, right-wing denialists have cooked up numerous alternative climate change theories that neatly conform to their worldview, but which all fall apart under scientific scrutiny.

The public policy ramifications of this media failure hit home again this past Monday. That’s when the Roberts Court’s conservative majority ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, a craft retailer that sued the federal government for infringing on its religious freedom. At the core of the company’s objections was its claim that four of the 20 methods of contraception mandated by the Afforable Care Act are abortifacients (i.e. they terminate an in-progress pregnancy).

The good news: just like climate change, there was an overwhelming scientific consensus about this claim. Let’s be totally clear—the idea that IUDs and morning-after pills are abortifacients is clearly rejected by medical science. And no less than the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Health, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the Mayo Clinic agree. To all of these organizations, to whom we trust to regulate, advise, and train our nation’s professional healthcare providers, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg is successfully implanted in the uterus, so IUDs and Plan B morning-after pills are contraceptives. Full stop. So, case dismissed, right?

The bad news, of course, was that there was an overwhelming scientific consensus about this claim, and just like with climate change, conservatives on the court simply didn’t care. Never mind that the medical facts in the case strongly suggested Hobby Lobby had no real standing to sue in the first place. In fact, on page 9 of Justice Alito’s majority ruling, we find this inconvenient truth conveniently tucked away down in a footnote:

“The owners of the companies involved in these cases and others who believe that life begins at conception regard these four methods as causing abortions, but federal regulations, which define pregnancy as beginning at implantation.”

The whole Hobby Lobby case, in other words, was built upon a willfully accepted fallacy. Monday’s Supreme Court decision wasn’t a victory for religious freedom over the government as much it was a triumph of religious belief over science. (There’s also rank hypocrisy and disingenuousness at work here as well. Hobby Lobby’s employee retirement plan invests in the very pharmaceutical companies that make emergency contraception. And up until two years ago,Hobby Lobby’s health insurance plan actually offered IUDs and Plan B. Only after being contacted by a right-wing legal group—hunting for a proxy in their fight to weaken Obamacar—did the company conveniently discover its religious objection.)

Nevertheless, right-wing and “pro-life” supporters have so successfully muddied the facts about contraception, the press demonstrated little interest in correcting them. Case in point, the New York Times’ big, lead story on the decision, which whistled right past the plaintiff’s key claim:

“The health care law and related regulations require many employers to provide female workers with comprehensive insurance coverage for a variety of methods of contraception. The companies objected to some of the methods. “No one has disputed the sincerity of their religious beliefs,” Justice Alito wrote. The dissenters agreed.

“The companies said they had no objection to some forms of contraception, including condoms, diaphragms, sponges, several kinds of birth control pills and sterilization surgery. Justice Ginsburg wrote that other companies may object to all contraception, and that the ruling would seem to allow them to opt out of any contraception coverage.”

Notice something missing here? For some reason, the Times tells us all about which specific contraceptives Hobby Lobby doesn’t object to, but we never learn which ones they do object to, and more importantly, why, and if their objections had any scientific merit.

The Washington Post’s Supreme Court write-up at least included more specifics than the Times, but its scattershot approach leads it to fall back into the same old false equivalence framing:

“Some businesses object to offering contraception at all, while others, like the companies that brought the challenge to the Supreme Court, say offering certain types of birth control, such as IUDs, make them complicit in abortion.”

[…11 paragraphs later…]

“In this case, the companies’ owners say that four of the 20 contraceptives approved by the FDA work after an egg has been fertilized and thus are abortifacients. While many, if not most, doctors and scientists disagree, Alito said the point is that the owners believe offering such services—such as the morning-after pill and IUDs—violates their religious faiths.”

Notice, again, how Alito’s whole justification for ruling against Obamacare rests upon what the Hobby Lobby owners believe. Does the Post pushback on this citing expert medical analysis? Does it point out a lot of people believe a lot of crazy things with no basis in fact but they still don’t merit a judicial carve-out from federal health regulations. Not really. It equivocates with “many, if not most doctors and scientists disagree,” an intentionally squishy qualifier that offers little more than the pretense of context.

Tellingly, mainstream media coverage, overall, wasn’t much better than Fox News. This was how they didn’t get it right: “Dozens of companies, including Hobby Lobby, claim religious objections to covering some or all contraceptives. The methods and devices at issue before the Supreme Court were those the plaintiffs say can work after conception.” In fact, the latest research suggests that IUDs and Plan B actually don’t work after conception. But even if they do, it’s important to remember that the scientific consensus clearly says that preventing a fertilized egg from implanting is not an abortion. In fact, the Affordable Care Act is explicitly forbidden from funding coverage for abortions. That “dozens of companies” are making—or, more precisely, making up—an argument to the contrary shouldn’t be worth a bucket of warm spit when it comes to crafting public health policy.

This doesn’t stop some conservatives from trying to have it both ways—to both dismiss scientific consensus while pretending its on their side. Back in May, for example, GOP Senator Marco Rubio even went so far as to claim the “science is settled” that life begins at conception. No sir.Others on the right have tried to polarize the medical definition of pregnancy, claiming it is “an odd insistence” of “the Left” without mentioning all the nonpartisan medical professional organizations that endorse this same conclusion. Getting points for chutzpah and projection, one obtuse conservative snarkily dinged the “anti-Science Left” for failing to recognize that you can’t produce a life without a fertilized egg. Of course, you can’t produce life beyond a few cells unless that fertilized egg is implanted in a woman’s uterus, but then disappearing women out of the discussion of contraceptive choice and reproductive rights is another common tactic among the right. On a related note, Alito’s 49-page opinion only mentioned “woman” or “women” 13 times.

By failing to honestly address the science at the root of the Hobby Lobby case, the media has fallen for the same old conservative spin that, for years, has also corrupted its climate change coverage. In a way, it mirrors the actions of the Roberts Court’s conservative majority, which similarly granted greater weight to the plaintiffs’ religious interpretation of medical science than to actual medical science itself. Sadly, this brazen act of judicial corporate activism was compounded by a tragic failure of explanatory journalism. And thanks to the latter, the public is less informed about broad consequences of the former. As now almost anyone—or anything, for that matter—can construct a so-called religious freedom if science and the evidentiary process need not be involved in defining the boundaries of said freedoms.

The Hobby Lobby case has set us upon a dangerously slippery legal slope. By endowing for-profit companies with unprecedented rights over their employees and unheard of freedoms from federal regulations, conservatives have set the conditions for future corporate discrimination as well as delegitimization of the government. But it is also a broader, cautionary tale about how poorly the mainstream media holds conservatives accountable for their often specious scientific claims. Facts are the most precious currency of journalists, but if they aren’t willing to speak scientific truth to power—whether it’s on reproductive rights or evolution or climate change—it’s not just the press’s reputation that suffers. We all do. 

Emphasis Mine


Megyn Kelly Misrepresented My Article About Contraception I’m an OB-GYN. She’s Not.

Source: New Republic

Author: Jen Gunter

I was quoted on a Fox show. While this is somewhat surprising, the fact that I was put in the same category as Jon Stewart (apparently we are both liberal ideologues) actually left me feeling honored. The issue, of course, is the four methods of birth control that Hobby Lobby is no longer required to cover under their employee health plan due to the recent Supreme Court ruling. Megyn Kelly of Fox apparently took issue with Jon Stewart calling out claims that Plan B is an abortifacienta drug causing abortionas “not true” (he is correct) and my statement that “three of the four contraceptives do not lead to abortion, even using “three of the four contraceptives do not lead to abortion, the conservative definition of when life begins,” which appeared in The New Republic. Ms. Kelly claims that Plan B and ella (levonorgestrel and ulipristal acetate postcoital contraception, respectively), and Mirena IUS and ParaGard (both intrauterine devices or IUDs), “Can and do end fertilized eggs.” She is wrong.Unlike my piece or the myriad posts I have written on the subject on my own blog, Ms. Kelly offers no scientific articles to bolster her claims, but rather rests her case on product monographsbasic descriptions of the drugsand the opinion of the Supreme Court majority. These are five men whose last biology class was likely 40 or more years ago (i.e., before the basic science evaluating these methods of contraception existed) and who do not practice medicine.

Let’s first dispense with the idea that a product monograph should even be considered. Product monographs do not contain the latest research; they are a compilation of FDA labeling requirements and corporate legal lingo used to deflect lawsuits. As more and more data emerges after a product goes to market, monographs become outdated because updating them offers no financial gain. Since I’m a doctor, not a lawyer, I’ll leave the specifics of how the case was argued to lawyers, but if the product monographs of Plan B, ella, Mirena IUS, and ParaGard were used as evidence to support the government’s case, then the government was relying on outdated and inaccurate information.

READ: The Medical Facts About Birth Control and Hobby Lobby—From an OB/GYN

As a board certified OB/GYN, I’ll stick to what I know. The medicine.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) issued a statement in 2008 indicating that a post-fertilization effect for Plan B was not consistent with the mechanism of action and thus should be removed from the product labeling. There is a plethora of medical evidence (this 2013 review article has many excellent references, as does this 2011 FIGO statement) showing no post-fertilization effect on either the embryo or on the endometrium (lining of the uterus). Plan B works by inhibiting a specific hormonal surge that happens before ovulation. It doesn’t work when given on or after the day of ovulation. In one study when Plan B was given after its window of efficacy, the number of pregnancies was exactly what would have been expected had no method been used (i.e., it didn’t work). Were there a lining-of-the-uterus effect, Plan B would be expected to work after ovulation has occurred, but it doesn’t.

What about ella (ulipristal acetate)? The 2012 FIGO Medial and Service Delivery Guidelines on Emergency Contraceptive Pills state the following:

The primary documented mechanism of action for both levonorgestrel and ulipristal regimens is interference with the process of ovulation. … These regimens have been shown not to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus in several studies. …


The single 30 mg of ulipristal in ella inhibits ovulation and is insufficient to have an effect on the lining of the uterus. Those who have argued against this claim point to the drug mifepristone (a different medication) and the effects the drug haswhen itis given every day (this is not the regimen for ella)so both are invalid arguments. What about the fact that ella can delay menses, does that belie a hidden effect on the lining of the uterus? A 30 mg dose of ulipristal acetate delays ovulation so menses may also be delayed. Further evidence for a lack of an effect on the lining of the uterus comes from the fact that subsequent episodes of unprotected intercourse after taking ella reduces its efficacy. When taken in the right reproductive window, ella delays ovulation for five days, allowing the sperm time to die, thus preventing fertilization. However, have sex a second time and the five-day hold on ovulation expires before the sperm. If ella affected the lining of the uterus, we would not see this increased failure rate with subsequent acts of unprotected intercourse. There is no basic science to support a post-fertilization effect, hence the FIGO statement. International organizations dedicated to the health of women don’t make such bold statements lightly.Kelly claims that the Mirena IUS thins the lining of the uterus, possibly creating an inhospitable environment for an embryo. While the Mirena IUS does affect the lining of the uterus, this is not believed to be its primary mechanism of action. To quote a 2013 study from the journal Contraception, “The major contraceptive action of the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) is cervical mucus thickening.” It takes five days for the cervical mucus to be affected, hence why we tell women to use a back-up method of contraception if the device is inserted mid-cycle. The levonorgestrel in Mirena and the inflammatory response may also affect sperm function, although this effect has not been fully elucidated. The effect of Mirena on the lining of the uterus clinicallyis similar to the effect of long-term use of birth control pills, but if this effect had a contraceptive action missing a few pills each month wouldn’t matter. However, missed pills result in pregnancies all the time.

The only method with a potential post-fertilization effect is the copper IUD, the ParaGard IUD. The copper in the ParaGard IUD causes a profound inflammatory reaction that covers the entire upper reproductive tract and that is toxic to both sperm and eggs. A post-fertilization effect is unlikely in this case, though, because fertilization is unlikely. In the rare cases where fertilization does happen (Copper IUDs do rarely fail and pregnancies do occur), there is no data to support that these fertilized eggs are less likely to implant than fertilized eggs conceived without a copper IUD in place. Further evidence for a lack of effect on the lining of the uterus is the fact that the copper IUD also reduces ectopic pregnancies (pregnancies outside the uterus in the fallopian tube). Experts interviewed by The New York Times also reached the same conclusion. While copper can theoretically damage a fertilized egg, there is no data supporting this as the mechanism of action. When a copper IUD is inserted as post-coital contraception the mechanisms of action are less clear, and a post-fertilization effect cannot be excluded, but most experts (and FIGO) believe even in this scenario it likely works by preventing fertilization. As of 2014, the bulk of the evidence suggests that thecopper IUD when used a standard birth control (i.e., not post coitally) works by preventing fertilization. In fact, with regard to both IUDs, a review article in the peer-reviewed journal Contraception concluded the following:

The common belief that the usual mechanism of action of IUDs in women is destruction of embryos in the uterus is not supported by empirical evidence.

The hypothesis that postcoital contraception and IUDs affect a fertilized egg is an old one that was generated before today’s technology. We now have a mountain of evidence that refutes the idea that Plan B, ella, and Mirena work by ending the “life” of “fertilized eggs.” It’s theoretically possible with ParaGard, but very unlikely. (Never mind that medicine doesn’t consider a fertilized egg a pregnancy). If using the wealth of scientific data (multiple basic science articles, statements of experts in peer-reviewed journals, and international organizations) makes me an ideologue, I’m fine with that. However, I’m not sure that I’d use “liberal” as the label, I think “evidence-based” ideologue is more accurate.

Dr. Jen Gunter is an OB/GYN and a pain medicine physician based in California. She blogs at and authored the book, The Preemie Primer, a guide for parents of premature babies.


Emphasis Mine


11 Things About Sex My Christian Family Hid from Me That I Want My Daughter to Know

screen_shot_2014-07-02_at_12.51.21_pmSource: AlterNet

Author: Barbara McNally


My mother’s talk about sex was nonexistent, like in many fundamental Christian homes. Her only words were, “Don’t do it. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”
So I was naïve and thought I should follow the church rules and wait until marriage to “serve” my man. It was about what I “gave up.”
I want my daughters to know that not all boys are threatening louts (although some may be selfish lovers). Sex is not awful, and women are not property, plastic dolls whose destiny is controlled by our parents and then husband.
Now, I love sex. It’s fun. And because I love you, my daughter, I want you to have the same delights in life that I do.
You are a beautiful and self-sufficient woman, and I want you to use your smarts to make sound decisions about your body and your sexuality. I wish I had the same conversation with my mother about sexuality, but times were different back then. But you should never be afraid to speak your mind, at least not to me.
Please take these words to heart:
1. There is power in your choice. You should have confidence in sex because you are choosing to partake, so it’s empowering, not shameful. If we consciously admit we’re going to have sex, we are more likely to take responsibility for this freedom by using birth control. By denying our sexuality, like I did, you may still end up in bed, but without protection. Today the spread of AIDS and STDs, let alone the consequences of pregnancy when you’re not ready to be a mother, is devastating. So carry a condom. Don’t depend on the man to have one. Enjoy your sexual freedom, but take responsibility for it. I never want you to have to choose between having an abortion, giving up a child for adoption, or quitting your college or career to raise an unplanned-for child.
2. Be willing to take risks and chances in many areas of your life, including sex. Go out and play, because consensual sex isn’t something that men take from you. It’s about the give and take. It doesn’t lessen you to give pleasure, or degrade you to have pleasure of your own. Any man who says differently thinks very poorly of women and is a selfish lover. Never compromise yourself, your vision of yourself, or your better judgment to make a man happy — in or out of the bedroom.
3. We have the good fortune to have a sense of who we are. We are not one-dimensional. You are a unique, strong, sexy, independent woman. You’re not me, nor are you an extension of my will. So you will make your own damned mistakes. I’ll help pick you up when you are lost. There’s strength that comes from fumbling our way out of the darkness and finding our authentic self. You are your own person. Become a strong woman who knows what her bliss is and knows just what to do to get it.
4. Sex is a natural part of the human experience. Fantasy and imagination are great, but the real thing is better. Yes, it’s safer to live in a glass cage, but taking risks and living out our adventures sexually as well as in our travels and careers makes for a full life. Yes, you will get rejected by men and by jobs and experience pain in life. But to me the peaks are worth taking the risk to live out our potential. There are worse things to “give up” to a man, such as your financial independence, your equality in the home, and your career. You need to know if you will be treated as an equal on every level before going into a legal partnership such as marriage.
5. Women have as much right to be sexual in all their colors as much as men. The Masters and Johnson studies show that women actually have more “buttons” for sexuality. We can have multiple orgasms in multiple places. The cultural brainwashing denying women the right to explore their sexuality was created by a patriarchal society that wants to keep women down.
6. Yes, if men really admitted that we women are sexual, they would have performance anxiety issues, as we women are more sexual on every level than men. Never settle for the one-minute ride!
7. If a man says he wants to take care of you, move on. You are not a child or a fragile doll to be cared fo, and neither is he. Loving couples take care of each other because they are partners in life.
8. Don’t let loneliness or insecurity dictate who you love. That won’t be real or satisfying — it will be fulfilling a deficit in your life. Find a man from a place of security and confidence so you don’t feel that you need him to complete you, but rather you want him to be the person you love and who loves you back.
9. Don’t spend time with a man that you want to change as soon as you can. If you can’t live with his bad habits or qualities now, then you shouldn’t be with him in the future. He will only change if he wants to change. We can only change ourselves, not others.
10. RUN if he doesn’t ask questions about your life. Self-centeredness is truly one of the worst qualities you can find in a potential mate. If you’ve gone on a couple of dates with him and he hasn’t asked you about yourself, run as if an axe murderer is chasing you. He will be self-centered in the bedroom, too!
11. A man who is completely focused on your appearance might be enticing at first, but don’t do it. Of course you want him to be attracted to you and you to him, but if he’s only about your breasts and your ass, he’s unlikely to value how brilliant, clever, and funny you are. Do you want a man to support more than your breasts? Then move on!
With all my love,


Emphasis Mine


A One World Religion is Already Here

Source: the internet post

Author: kristalclear

Dear Humans,

Today I would like to return to your awareness an aspect of the Human condition that adheres to certain religious beliefs and practices. It has long been understood by the architects of social order that a belief system predicated on fear and consequence was essential for maintaining control and domination over a populace. From their perspective you can see how important a template of compliancy would be. So church was created along with its extrusions of laws and moral antecedents that were mixed into that catchall phrase called religion.

There are many sects and orders that offer an illusion of choice. But common threads weave through all the major belief systems. The most prevalent would be the concept of one God or monotheism. This proved to be a workable construct in the minds of many people as it seemed both reasonable and appealing. All beliefs share a scriptural tradition, piety and commitment to faith. There are leaders and followers, flocks and herders. They all “teach” moral lessons and in the process etch a somewhat sinister line between those who “believe” and those who do not.

In the following paragraphs we’ll take a brief look at this concept called church and religion. And though these institutions tower above us so that we must look up to see them, I can assure you that their lofty posturing is just a decadent attempt to make us feel very small. But there is one attribute these grandiose ideologies have overwhelmingly in common— people take them seriously.


Emphasis Mine


How Non-Believers Can Counter That Annoying Religious Dogma That Life Without God Is Meaningless

Source: Alternet

Author: Hari Kunzru

Of all the jargon words that get thrown around in British political discourse, “faith” may be the one from which I feel most alienated. If you listen to politicians, “faith” seems to be a nebulous goodness, a state of mind that leads citizens to behave in certain convenient ways. The faithful perform charitable works, like running food banks or homeless shelters – great for reducing the departmental bottom line, or indeed for shifting the burden of dealing with the poor (not to mention the weak, the halt and the lame) from government altogether. The faithful lay down rules for their sexual relations and have prohibitions against socially problematic behaviour such as stealing things or (up to a point) being violent. In general, “faith” makes people much easier to govern – after all, they’re already being governed by God, who has panoptical security cameras and already knows what’s in everyone’s browser history. No wonder politicans line up to praise it. If only everyone possessed this salutary quality!

None of this seems to have anything to do with the actual experience of faith, which I have been struggling to understand since I was first exposed to organised religion as a child. I’m not talking about the kind of religious adherence that’s mainly a badge of belonging. Going to a holiday service or getting married in a church or temple is, for many people, no more than a way of asserting their identification with a tradition or their membership of a cultural group. For me, coming from a family that includes both devout Hindus and Anglican Christians, that kind of allegiance was never straightforward, and the assertion of a religious identity was left up to me. Belief would have to come, not as a comforting experience of group belonging, but as an individual choice. As a child, I waited for faith to make its necessity felt in my life. It never did. The plethora of contradictory rules and prohibitions in the major world religions appeared at best confusing, at worst absurd. Why did God care what I ate or how I dressed or who I slept with? Not everyone’s book could be divinely inspired. Someone had to be mistaken.

Faith, as opposed to “faith”, seems profound, disruptive and potentially terrifying. It is a leap into the dark, a surrender of will and judgment, an enormous risk. It is clearly an experience of great joy for some believers. Equally clearly, it opens others to the darkest and most atavistic impulses. For every person who is consoled or comforted by the belief that there is a God giving order and meaning to existence, another feels compelled to defend their unique truth against the unbeliever.

If one takes faith seriously, as I believe we must, then the idea of a “faith school” starts to seem bizarre. Critical thinking is anathema to faith. It is what one must relinquish, or transcend, in order to take the leap. The young British jihadis who are the object of so much public concern have gone to war for their faith. For them there is no question of comparison between religions, or understanding their belief as primarily a matter of cultural pride. They believe they have submitted to the will of God. This might be acceptable, even useful, to Britain’s political class if their faith was neatly subordinated to nation: “defender of the faith” is, after all, a royal title, and until political correctness went mad, presumably “attacker of the faith” was, too. However, the transnational nature of the ummah will never be reconcilable to the post-Westphalian nation state, so we say they have been “radicalised”, and their leap of faith has made them terrorists. This is the difference between faith and “faith”. The first, for good or ill, radicalizes the believer. The second is a political jargon word for a set of behaviours and practices that enforce social cohesion, or, if you prefer, subordination to the agenda of the ruling class.

In our lazy, dishonest contemporary conversation about faith, the faithless, such as myself, are almost silent. We are usually used as a negative rhetorical marker, against which the faithful can measure their virtue. To those who value tradition, we are deracinated. For those who like their principles founded in some unshakeable transcendental truth, we are feckless and mutable. We are assumed to be morally dubious, too weak or spineless to stand up for anything very much at all. Certainly we are not worthy of “respect”, which is the jargon word for what our political class offers religious or ethnic minorities in lieu of actual inclusion or equality. We are not invited on discussion programmes to describe how offended we feel that our cherished symbols are being mocked. We have no such symbols. Even if our numbers are large, we are rarely heard amid the hysterical yelling. Perhaps this is why the so-called “New Atheists” increasingly sound like a religious sect. It’s the only way to get heard.

I have come to resent this characterisation. My lack of faith has, over the years, formed itself into an active ethical position. I don’t have a sacred text, or beliefs that I wish to place beyond challenge or mockery. None of my positions are beyond argument. I will change them, if persuaded. My dislike of dogma and my respect (as opposed to “respect”) for rational debate doesn’t make me weak. Indeed, I hold that the very contingency of my positions are at the core of their ethical force. If you can’t point to a line in a book, or the dictates of a religious hierarchy to justify your opinions, then you have to own them yourself. You are fully responsible, and that is, in its own way, as radical and disruptive as submitting to the will of the divine. I hold tolerance as a signal virtue, but my tolerance is not absolute, nor is it cowardly. I am not, for example, a pacifist, though I find the notion of a “just war” shabby and despicable. I believe that a secular state is the only way to guarantee freedom of conscience. If I were to run the British educational system, I would establish schools devoted to questioning orthodoxies, not necessarily because everything old or traditional is wrong (quite the opposite – things last for a reason, and often that reason is because they work) but because critical thinking seems to me at least as much of a civic virtue as faith, and we ought to value it, instead of doing it down.

I describe myself as an atheist, but I don’t believe I have special access to a metaphysical truth about the world, or the lack of such a truth. It simply seems to me that the qualities of the divine that believers value – that it gives purposefulness to life, and renders our actions consequential and meaningful – don’t require the existence of a transcendent creator. Occam’s razor suggests that, unless God is necessary, he should probably be left out of the argument. Leading a decent, purposeful, virtuous life isn’t the sole province of religious believers. It certainly has little to do with the dishwater notion of faith offered in our current political conversation.

Emphasis Mine


The Medical Facts About Birth Control and Hobby Lobby—From an OB/GYN

Source: New Republic

Author: Jen Gunter

If you’ve read the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby or the reaction to it, then you know what sparked the lawsuit. The Affordable Care Act says that employer-provided insurance must include essential health benefits, including all medically authorized forms of contraception. The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to this requirement, because they believe that four common forms of birth controltwo versions of the “morning-after pill” and two kinds of intrauterine devices (IUDs)are “abortifacients.” In other words, the owners of Hobby Lobby think these contraceptives end pregnancies rather than prevent them. And they believe that is tantamount to ending a life.

The claim, which you can find on virtually any conservative website, has been making the rounds for a long time. It’s stuck because the science on how these particular drugs and devices work wasn’t that great. But recent advances in medical diagnostics and some ingenious studies have changed that. We know a lot more about how the contraceptives work. We can be very confident that three of the four contraceptives do not lead to abortion, even using the conservative definition of when life begins, and we can be almost (although not quite) as sure that the fourth does not, either.

There are essentially six ways to prevent pregnancy:

  1. Make the cervical mucus inhospitable (sperm can’t get to the egg)
  2. Inhibit ovulation (prevent the release of an egg)
  3. Affect fertilization (the ability of the sperm to meet up with and/or penetrate the egg).
  4. Affect the fertilized egg (prevent implantation)
  5. Create an inhospitable uterine environment (prevent implantation)
  6. Affect the implanted embryo

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As far as the medical establishment is concerned, pregnancy doesn’t begin until implantation. (In fact, 80 percent of fertilized eggs never implant.) So under this “medical” definition of pregnancy, only method #6that is, doing something to the implanted embryowould constitute a form of abortion. But religious conservatives hold that pregnancy and life itself begin at the moment an egg is fertilized. Under the “religious” definition of pregnancy, methods 4, 5 and 6 would all constitute forms of abortion.

What does that mean for the four types of contraception at issue in the Hobby Lobby case? Let’s consider each one.

Birth Control or "Abortifacient"?


Plan B, which is one form of the morning-after pill, clearly wouldn’t. It works by inhibiting ovulation when given during a specific 48 hour window of the cycle. It has no other method of action. This is undisputed scientific fact. (Plan B is one of the best studied of all the methods of contraception).

Ella (the manufacturer uses a lower case “e”) is another version of the morning-after pill. It too works by inhibiting ovulation, only it is better at it than Plan B. The 30 mg of ulipristal in ella has no effect on sperm quality, a fertilized egg, or the lining of the uterus. Higher doses affect the uterine lining, potentially creating a hostile environment that could stop a fertilized egg from implanting. But a 30 mg dose has the same impact on uterine lining as a placeboin other words, it has no effect. The only gray area is if a woman were to take ella not realizing that she is already a few weeks pregnant (an unrecognized pregnancy). The impact of ella in early pregnancy is currently unknown.

Mirena, one of the IUDs, changes cervical mucus. It also inhibits ovulation for a small percentage of women in the first year of use, but that is unlikely a major method of action. The Mirena IUD does thin the lining of the uterus, but there is no evidence to suggest this impacts implantation of a fertilized egg.

That leaves the ParaGard, which is a copper IUD. The copper in the device damages sperm and eggs, affects how the sperm and egg travel to meet, and may affect implantation. Some very complex studies suggest that a very small percentage of cycles with a copper IUD (around 1%) may result in a fertilized egg that fails to implant. But, as physician Aaron Carroll noted recently at The Upshot, that’s also the normal failure rate of the IUD. The bulk of the studies do not support a post-fertilization effect.

The only caveat is that if either IUD fails (and while rare, they do fail about 1 percent of the time) the resulting pregnancy has a higher risk of miscarriage.

The facts are summarized in the table above. There is no evidence that Plan B, Ella, or the Mirena cause abortion by any definition. The evidence that the ParaGard might affect implantation for a small percentage of women, thus leading to what some conservatives would call abortion, is thin. But we don’t have the information to discount it completely.

Is that a rational basis for refusing to pay for these contraceptivesand reducing the reach of a health care initiative that provides enormous benefits? Religious conservatives think so. And thanks to the Supreme Court, they will get their way.

Dr. Jen Gunter is an OB/GYN and a pain medicine physician based in California. She blogs at and authored the book, The Preemie Primer, a guide for parents of premature babies.

Emphasis Mine