Category Archives: Science

Aware vs. Informed: Autism, Epilespy, and Bipolar Edition

Awareness is a pretty trendy thing. A big deal is made of breast cancer awareness, autism awareness, gay rights awareness, human rights violations awareness, etc., especially in privileged groups. If you know about the problem, the logic goes, then it will go away.

Wrong.

The thing about awareness is you don’t have to deal with the messy facts. Instead, you get to paint a subjective picture, preferably one that gets people to give your organization money. Informing people, on the other hand, is more work, because you have to explain things, and you have to get people to look at things differently, and you have to get them to change how they think about basic things. It’s not enough to know that a problem exists. You have to know why it’s a problem, and why it would be better if the problem was gone. You have to know what it’s like to live with that problem, and you need to eliminate inaccurate stereotypes about the problem. That’s a hell of a lot more work than raising awareness, but informing people actually works. It’s hard, but it gets shit done.

So let’s get some shit done. I’m going to be using some terms you may not be familiar with. I’ve defined the terms I think need the most explanation on the Definitions of Common Terms page, but if there’s a term in here you don’t know, ask me in the comments and I’ll explain it. Read the rest of this entry

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Faith Is Not A Virtue Part I: Education

I was raised in an evangelical Christian family, sent to evangelical Christian schools (complete with daily bible classes and shitty science classes), and heavily involved with my evangelical Christian mega-church. Again and again I heard the explicit message “faith is a virtue,” which contains the implicit message “critical thinking is bad.” Obviously I ended up doing some bad shit, cuz, well, I’m now an atheist.

But I still hear the “faith is a virtue” argument from the religious people in my life when we discuss how untenable their beliefs are. My best friend is smart, very good at critical thinking, and has a degree in anthropology with a focus in archaeology. She understands evolution much better than I do, completely accepts it as fact, and yet for a long time she has wavered, torn between what she knew and what she had been taught while being raised a Christian. She has doubts about the bible and how all the bad things and the good things could be reconciled, and how the bible and science matched up. But, up until very recently, she chose to believe. Why? Because of her “personal relationship.” Because she didn’t want to give up her faith. Because faith is good.

Bullshit. Faith is not a virtue; faith is a weakness. I’d say I’m sorry for putting it so bluntly, but I’m not, so I’m not going to lie about it. Faith is unwavering adherence to an idea despite the dearth of supporting evidence. Or, to put it another way, faith is unwavering denial of evidence that refutes an idea. Faith is a blindfold that you cheerily put on right before you walk into the traffic of reality. Faith is socially accepted gullibility. And faith is something we’re supposed to idealize? Why would anyone fall for that?

Well, any combination of three reasons: lack of education, lack of reason, or fear. Read the rest of this entry