Call For Writers!

writers-block

The Rationality Unleashed! Project is expanding rapidly, so we’re currently looking for more writers for our various project. Please see the project and topics below.

Rationality Unleashed!

Racial inequality

Feminism

Israel/Palestine

Economics

Third Parties (New political parties in America)

International Correspondence

Environmentalism (science based, please)

We’ll accept pitches for any other topic. These are simply the primary ones we’re looking for right now.

 

The Foodentists

Diet

Nutrition

Food Fads

Countering Food Babe, Dr. Oz, Natural News, Et Al

 

The Fish Tomato

This site is pure satire. We’re looking for writers to write about topics in science and skepticism in a hilariously satirical way.

 

If you’re interested, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net

We’ll need an email address, wordpress account name, a bio and photo/avatar you want used on your bio and posts, and a writing sample if you have one. If you haven’t written before, that’s fine, just let us know. We welcome new writers.

 

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Bioethics and Ethical Philosophy student at Cleveland State University, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes. He writes about science, technology, politics, human rights, feminism, religion, and any other topic that catches his eye.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Advertisements

Fraud, Misinformation, and the GMO Labeling Law in Vermont

the_great_monsatan_sticker_rectangle

In May of this year, Vermont passed a GMO labeling bill that flooded the national news media. It was such a huge event since similar legislation had been defeated in places like Washington and California leading up to it. Those opposing the genetic modification of seeds, who have found quite a bit of support in Vermont, began to celebrate, while hinting at the backlash they knew would come. Of course, they pointed at Monsanto, their usual target of ire, regardless of whether it’s deserved.

The bill, H. 112, titled AN ACT RELATING TO THE LABELING OF FOOD PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING, has several glaring problems that should be looked at from the start. Let’s take a look at the “Findings” section, which sets the premise of the bill.

U.S. federal law does not provide for the necessary and satisfactory regulation of the safety and labeling of food that contains genetically engineered ingredients, as evidenced by the following:

This part alone is demonstrably false, even before they list their reasons for coming to this conclusion. The process itself takes years just to get a new GMO to be approved by the FDA.

U.S. federal labeling and food and drug laws do not require manufacturers of food produced with genetic engineering to label such food as genetically engineered. As indicated by the testimony of Dr. Robert Merker, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Supervisory Consumer Safety Officer, theFDA has statutory authority to require labeling of food products, but does not consider genetically engineered foods to be materially different from their traditional counterparts to justify such labeling.

Alright, this is a very common argument used against GMOs, and it’s “not even wrong,” that is, it’s not based enough in reality to be wrong.

Currently, all seeds leaving the biotech firms to the farmers are clearly labeled. The FDA requires labeling on food only if the nutritional value of the food is changed. Since GMO is a process, and not an ingredient, no change in nutrition typically occurs. With the exception of Golden Rice and the new banana, most are engineered with traits to aid farmers in the growing process. They have no effect on the final product.

So, safety, again, is not at issue here.

No formal FDA policy on the labeling of genetically engineered foods has been adopted. Currently, the FDA only provides nonbinding guidance on the labeling of genetically engineered foods, including a 1992 draft guidance regarding the need for the FDA to regulate labeling of food produced from genetic engineering and a 2001 draft guidance for industry regarding voluntary labeling of food produced from genetic engineering.

The FDA regulates genetically engineered foods in the same way it regulates foods developed by traditional plant breeding. Under its regulatory framework, the FDA does not independently test the safety of genetically engineered foods. Instead, manufacturers may submit safety research and studies, the majority of which the manufacturers finance or conduct. The FDA reviews the manufacturers’ research and reports through a voluntary safety consultation, and issues a letter to the manufacturer acknowledging the manufacturer’s conclusion regarding the safety of the genetically engineered food product being tested.

The FDA does not use meta-studies or other forms of statistical analysis to verify that the studies it reviews are not biased by financial or professional conflicts of interest.

The FDA is not responsible for any safety testing. They rely on the science that has been done.  Currently, there are a substantial number of independent safety studies that have been done.

That said, this still represents a distinct lack of understand of how science works. Science self corrects for bias. When a study is done and submitted to a journal, it gets peer reviewed. This is an often brutal process, where any holes can and will be poked in your paper.

Even if a bad study somehow makes it through that and gets published, the scientific community continues to scrutinize the study, and other labs attempt to replicate it.

Whenever you look at making a scientific claim, you have to rely on a body of evidence, rather than a single study, for this very reason. In the end, the funding source makes no difference, because all of these safeguards are built into the process.

There is a lack of consensus regarding the validity of the research and science surrounding the safety of genetically engineered foods, as indicated by the fact that there are peer-reviewed studies published in international scientific literature showing negative, neutral, and positive health results.

There have been no long-term or epidemiologic studies in the United States that examine the safety of human consumption of genetically engineered foods.

The “long-term studies” assertion has been floating around for a long time. The studies done on genetically modified technologies are equivalent to those that have been done on other types of crops and have shown that they are just as safe as other types of agricultural goods.

As far as consensus, there are over 2000 studies thus far on GMOs. A massive review in 2013 showed the consensus clearly with the following: “The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops.”

Independent scientists are limited from conducting safety and risk-assessment research of genetically engineered materials used in food products due to industry restrictions on the use for research of those genetically engineered materials used in food products.

                This is another very common assertion. There IS a seed agreement that farmers sign when they purchase seeds. The question is, when determining the safety of a food product, what lab is going to grow it from scratch? They can freely purchase the food products to conduct the studies, and they do, as is evidence on the previously linked body of scientific work on the subject.

Genetically engineered foods are increasingly available for human consumption, as evidenced by the fact that: it is estimated that up to 80 percent of the processed foods sold in the United States are at least partially produced from genetic engineering; and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2012, genetically engineered soybeans accounted for 93 percent of U.S. soybean acreage, and genetically engineered corn accounted for 88 percent of U.S. corn acreage.

That’s pretty accurate, as far as it goes, and only further reinforced the concept that we’ve been using GMO originated foods in abundance with no ill effects.

Genetically engineered foods pose potential risks to health, safety, agriculture, and the environment, as evidenced by the following:

Independent studies in laboratory animals indicate that the ingestion of genetically engineered foods may lead to health problems such as gastrointestinal damage, liver and kidney damage, reproductive problems, immune system interference, and allergic responses.

They do no such thing. No study that has not been retracted (Example: Seralini) has shown any such thing.

The genetic engineering of plants and animals may cause unintended consequences. The use of genetic engineering to manipulate genes by inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. Mixing plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes through genetic engineering in combinations that cannot occur in nature may produce results that lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.

First, no animal genes are currently being used in the genetic modification of seeds.

Secondly, they’re making an interesting assertion here. Let me explain the difference between choosing a trait through genetic modification versus choosing it through other methods, such as selective breeding or radiation.

Other methods equate to cutting butter with a club. It’s messy, and there is a LOT of room for error, because you can’t precisely control what you’re selecting for. This was evidenced in the case of the poison potato, long before GMO.

Using genetic modification is like cutting butter with a surgical scalpel. It’s extremely precise, and there is very little room where error can occur in what you’re selecting for. This makes it exponentially more precise than traditional methods.

The use of genetically engineered crops is increasing in commodity agricultural production practices. Genetically engineered crops promote large-scale monoculture production, which contributes to genetic homogeneity, loss of biodiversity, and increased vulnerability of crops to pests, diseases, and variable climate conditions.

Genetically engineered crops that include pesticides may adversely affect populations of bees, butterflies, and other nontarget insects.

All crops use pesticides, even certified organic. Here’s a chart showing organic approved pesticides, and their toxicity to bees.

Organic Pesticides

As for butterflies, there hasn’t been an issue of toxicity towards them. The issue is the destruction of milkweed, which again, has nothing to do with GMO. It has to do with agriculture in general not wanting milkweed in their fields.

Cross-pollination of or cross-contamination by genetically engineered crops may contaminate organic crops and prevent organic farmers and organic food producers from qualifying for organic certification under federal law.

Cross-pollination from genetically engineered crops may have an adverse effect on native flora and fauna. The transfer of unnatural deoxyribonucleic acid to wild relatives can lead to displacement of those native plants, and in turn, displacement of the native fauna dependent on those wild varieties.

Cross pollination can happen, yes. That said, there are simple ways to solve the problem for organic farmers, as evidenced in a Plos One paper in 2013.

Even then, however, this has nothing to do with labeling GMO foods. This is the organic industry complaining about a challenge they “might” encounter while trying to the marketing advantage that is a certified organic label. It shouldn’t be part of this bill, since it’s not relevant to it.

For multiple health, personal, cultural, religious, environmental, and economic reasons, the State of Vermont finds that food produced from genetic engineering should be labeled as such, as evidenced by the following:

Public opinion polls conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont indicate that a large majority of Vermonters want foods produced with genetic engineering to be labeled as such.

Public opinion shouldn’t dictate scientific policy. Public opinion has zero bearing on scientific conclusions. Legislating science based on public opinion is poor policy.

Because genetic engineering, as regulated by this act, involves the direct injection of genes into cells, the fusion of cells, or the hybridization of genes that does not occur in nature, labeling foods produced with genetic engineering as “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown,” “all natural,” or other similar descriptors is inherently misleading, poses a risk of confusing or deceiving consumers, and conflicts with the general perception that “natural” foods are not genetically engineered.

GMO based foods are as “natural” as any other food we eat. We’ve been modifying our crops from how they would naturally occur since the invention of agriculture, about 12,000 years ago. Labeling anything we eat as “natural” is meaningless, because all of it “natural.”

Persons with certain religious beliefs object to producing foods using genetic engineering because of objections to tampering with the genetic makeup of life forms and the rapid introduction and proliferation of genetically engineered organisms and, therefore, need food to be labeled as genetically engineered in order to conform to religious beliefs and comply with dietary restrictions.

There is no religious doctrine in any established religion that dictates genetic modification. Even if there were, it would then require that its adherents eat none of the food of the modern world, as it has all been genetically altered from its original form.

Requiring that foods produced through genetic engineering be labeled as such will create additional market opportunities for those producers who are not certified as organic and whose products are not produced from genetic engineering. Such additional market opportunities will also contribute to vibrant and diversified agricultural communities.

This is key, right here. This states explicitly that they are legislating GMOs to aid competing parts of the industry in gaining a higher market share.

Labeling gives consumers information they can use to make informed decisions about what products they would prefer to purchase.

It gives them no information that is relevant to the health, safety, or content of a food. It only tells them that a specific process was used prior to the food being grown.

Because both the FDA and the U.S. Congress do not require the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering, the State should require food produced with genetic engineering to be labeled as such in order to serve the interests of the State, notwithstanding limited exceptions, to prevent inadvertent consumer deception, prevent potential risks to human health, promote food safety, protect cultural and religious practices, protect the environment, and promote economic development.

This final statement just reiterates the points addressed above.

crops-_2529116b

So, we’ve established here that the premise of the bill is entirely faulty. There isn’t anything in it that is relevant to enforcing labeling. Given this fact, it’s no wonder that a lawsuit HAS in fact been filed against the state of Vermont over the constitutionality of this piece of legislation. Only…it wasn’t filed by Monsanto.

Let’s look, first, at the plaintiffs.

GMA – Grocery Manufacturers Association

The GMA is an organization representing the interests of the food and beverage companies of America. They have initiatives such as The Healthy Schools Partnership and Keeping the Industry Green.

Of course, since members of theirs aided in defeating the labeling initiative in Washington, they’ve already been demonized.

Mercola names then the “Most Evil Corporation on the Planet,” which, you know, isn’t hyperbole or anything. Occupy Monsanto asks you to boycott their entire membership list, which does include Monstano, as one of hundreds of companies.

 

NAM – National Association of Manufacturers

NAM is an organization that represents small and large manufacturers in America. They include a huge membership all over the country, in many industries. They’re a pretty active organization on the national stage, and are transparent to the point of publicly stating their positions on a myriad of issues.

 

IDFA – International Dairy Foods Association

The IDFA is comprised of the Milk Industry Foundation, National Cheese Institute, and the International Ice cream Association. They’re members are entirely dairy producing companies.

 

SFA – Snack Food Association

The SFA resents about 400 companies worldwide that are snack manufacturers and suppliers. They’re active in education and research globally, and reputable.

download

So, looking at these four plaintiffs, aside from membership in one (amidst hundreds of other companies), Monsanto isn’t even an aspect. They are certainly not suing Vermont, as the headlines are continuously claiming.

This is pretty telling, actually, because a non-profit by the name of Sum of Us is currently raising money to fight against Monsanto. They’ve gotten over 21,000 donors so far, to help them fight the evil Monsanto.

Now, there are a couple of interesting things to this.

First, Monsanto is one of thousands of companies represented by the four plaintiff organizations, yet they are using Monsanto as the focus of their fundraising, but naming them as the company leading the charge. They’re essentially lying to their donors to raise money, which constitutes willful fraud.

Also, they are a non-profit actively raising money to aid in the legislative process. While a non-profit is allowed to lobby, they aren’t permitted to financially influence the legislative process.

OK, so let’s look at the lawsuit itself.

They’ve filed it based on the following.

Vermont passed Act 120 to require food manufacturers to change the way they label and advertise foods containing ingredients derived from genetically engineered crops. Plaintiffs represent manufacturers who are subject to the Act, who fundamentally disagree with the message it forces them to convey, and who must now take immediate steps to change their labeling and advertising to comply with the Act’s enforcement deadline. Plaintiffs bring this suit to declare invalid and enjoin Act 120 on the ground that it violates the United States Constitution.

That’s pretty pointed. Do they have justification for it?

                The operative provisions of Act 120 take effect July 1, 2016. That is a difficult, if not impossible, deadline for Plaintiffs’ members to meet. They must revise hundreds of thousands of product packages, from the small to the super-sized. Then, they must establish Vermont-only distribution channels to ensure that the speech Vermont is forcing them to say, or not say, is conveyed in that State. To comply by the deadline, some companies may have no choice but to revise labels for all of their products, no matter where they might be sold in the United States.

That’s pretty important. They’re requiring actions from out of state companies that may be forced to affect how those companies operate in other states.

The proscriptions in Act 120 are beyond Vermont’s power to enact. The State is compelling manufacturers to convey messages they do not want to convey, and prohibiting manufacturers from describing their products in terms of their choosing, without anything close to a sufficient justification. The State is forcing the costs of this experiment on out-of-state companies and citizens to which it is not politically accountable, and it is undermining and impeding the federal government’s interest in uniform, nationwide standards for food labeling prescribed by duly authorize expert federal agencies.

                In each of the above respects, the Act exceeds Vermont’s authority under the United States Constitution. The Act should be invalidated and enjoined in its entirety.

                That’s the key to it right there. You have the state government legislating companies and people in other states, affecting interstate commerce, and overriding the federal government’s authority. It’s feasible that this could even ripple internationally, with our exported goods from these companies as well. By all appearances, Vermont has well overstepped its authority.

As James Cooper points out aptly in his article on the subject, “since this is much the same law as was overturned in International Dairy Foods v Amestoy case, it is likely to be overturned as well.”

So, we’ll keep watch on this legislation and subsequent lawsuit, and for those of us that follow the science, we’ll hope that more rational minds will prevail, and the law will be summarily overturned.

Rows of a Carrot Field

References

“A Built-In Strategy to Mitigate Transgene Spreading from Genetically Modified Corn.” PLOS One. 6 Dec. 2013. 18 Jun. 2014. <http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.137&gt;.

“PDF: Lawsuit vs. Vermont GMO law.” Scribd. 12 Jun. 2014. 18 Jun. 2014. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/229432405/PDF-Lawsuit-vs&gt;.

Vermont State House. State. 2013. 18 Jun. 2014<http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/bills/House/H-112.pdf&gt;.

Chaussee, Jennifer . “California GMO Labeling Push Fails A Second Time After Lawmakers Reject Bill.” Huff Post Food for Thought. 28 May. 2014.<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/californi&gt;.

Cooper, James . “Vermont sued for its GMO labeling law.” Examiner. 16 Jun. 2014. 18 Jun. 2014. <http://www.examiner.com/article/vermont-sued-for-i&gt;.

Entine, Jon . “After GMO Labeling Bill Defeat In Washington, Will Anti-GMO ‘Witch Hunts’ Escalate In Next Battlegro.” Forbes. 6 Nov. 2013. 18 Jun. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/11/07/a&gt;.

Ford, Dana . “Vermont governor signs GMO food labeling into law.” CNN Health. 8 May. 2014. 18 Jun. 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/08/health/vermont-gmo-l&gt;.

Novella, Steven . “The Seralini GMO Study – Retraction and Response to Critics.” Science-Based Medicine. 4 Dec. 2013. 18 Jun. 2014. <http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-seralini-g&gt;.

Pomeroy, Ross . “Massive Review Reveals Consensus on GMO Safety.” Real Clear Science. 1 Oct. 2013. 18 Jun. 2014. <http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2013/10/massi&gt;.

Rebgetz, Louisa . “Genetically modified Queensland bananas to join fight against catastrophic results of vitamin A defi.” ABC News. 15 Jun. 2014. 17 Jun. 2014. <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-14/genetic-bana&gt;.

Stockstill, Ellen . “Agricultural Biotechnology.” Curiosity from Discovery. 18 Jun. 2014. <http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/GM-crops-h&gt;.

Wendel, JoAnna . “With 2000+ global studies affirming safety, GM foods among most analyzed subjects in science.” Genetic Literacy Project. 8 Oct. 2013. 17 Jun. 2014. <http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/10/08/w&gt;.

 

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Bioethics and Ethical Philosophy student at Cleveland State University, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes. He writes about science, technology, politics, human rights, feminism, religion, and any other topic that catches his eye.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Sexism and Gum In Your Hair

gum_web

I had a very strange conversation tonight, that was hilariously nonsensical given the topic and the fervor of the argument. Thinking about it, and chatting with the OP who was sitting back and watching with amusement, I’m looking at it a bit differently now. This is a fantastic illustration of the subconscious, more subtle sexism that permeates our culture due to societal gender norms. Here’s the conversation….

OP: If you get gum stuck in your hair, melt some chocolate and rub it on the gum – it will come right out. Mayonnaise also works.

Interlocutor: If you get Gum stuck in your hair, you have to be a little girl.

OP: O.M.doG. (tilting head to the side and smacking it)… did I just read right? <Interlocutor> made a SEXIST remark?????

Interlocutor:  Only a girl could get gum stuck in their hair. It is not sexist.

This is where I enter, because….who could resist?

Me: It kinda is….

Interlocutor: I have NEVER seen a guy getting gum stuck in his hair.

Me: That must represent everyone, then….

Interlocutor: Lol, you could use the exact same thing to say the opposite. Just because you have seen many men with gum in their hair it must represent everyone then….

Me: And the logical conclusion from that is….it could be males or females. It IS usually children, however, of both sexes, due to less developed dexterity.

Interlocutor: Who has longer hair? it is generally girls. Thus who is more likely to get gum stuck in their hair…

Me: You’ve stated that it must be a little girl. Even one boy getting gum stuck in their hair disproves that, making it a silly statement in and of itself. Also it’s common enough for a guy to get it stuck in their beard or mustache…..

Interlocutor: Have you seen a boy get gum stuck in their hair and i mean themselves not someone else putting it in…

Me: Yep.

Interlocutor: Well when you say hair, unless you specifically state beard or mustache it is generally considered the hair on your head….

Me: Hair is hair, isn’t it? Really, your initial statement made a lot of assumptions, and stuck a gender on it.

Interlocutor: Hair on your head isn’t the same as a beard though is it, 2 different locations for a start…

MeIt’s still hair. The OP didn’t specify. It didn’t specify what hair, or even how it got stuck there. Someone else may put it in. You assumed it was long hair, done by the person with the hair, and that it was on their head. That’s 3 assumptions not specified in the OP to get to your conclusion that it must be a little girl.

Interlocutor: and arent you making assumptions that it isn’t. Have you considered that maybe just maybe it has the part about it being head hair left out…You would be just as bad if as a man you cant keep food in your mouth…

Me: Nope, I didn’t make assumptions. I just denied your assumptions and said it could apply pretty equally depending on the circumstance.

Interlocutor: The biggest circumstance being how long the hair is….

Me: Nope, that’s assuming it’s referring to hair on the top of the head and not on the face. The solution to getting it out of hair works for either.

Interlocutor: If it was hair on face, wouldn’t it just mention men, seeing as how woman (well most) dont have facial hair…

Me: It just mentions hair, meaning it can apply to all types.

Interlocutor: Then it would still mean it was a guy, what girl has more hair (other than on head) than a guy….

Me: The point is that it could be hair on the face OR on the head, making the probability pretty gender neutral.

Interlocutor: But still, a girl will have MORE hair on head (including facial hair) than a guy. So who is more likely to get gum stuck in hair?

Me: Considering facial hair is closer to the mouth, even if less have it, it’d still be a draw.

Interlocutor: Well, we will have to wait for the official study to see who is right.

Me: Right. Either way, it doesn’t HAVE to be a little girl is the point of this whole, strange exercise.

The conversation went on some tangents from here, with my interlocutor gnashing teeth and digging in heels a bit more, but I think this is a great representation of the problem. Our society puts genders in specific roles. Many people fall into that trap, tossing aside logic and making assumptive leaps in order to keep hold of those norms, even to the point of arguing hard for an illogical stance in order to maintain them.

This is really where our battleground is. This is the pervasive problem underlying so many of the problems with misogyny in our society today.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

 

 

Deconstructing Men’s Rights Activism

mens-rights-activists

I think that Cracked said it best, on their report on Men’s Rights Activism, when they said “Men’s Rights Activism began as the natural response of American males to the growing threat of feminism, in much the same way that burning your house down is the natural response to the threat of ghosts. In both cases, a better solution would be to walk away and let a less emotionally fragile man deal with the situation.”

The Men’s Rights Movements is actually quite a few fractured groups of men fighting against that horrible act of women asking to be treated as equals, or as MRAs actually put it “Those uppity bitches wanting to take what’s mine!” Yes, I’ve actually had someone use that line, sad though it may be.

On their face, they appear to be addressing real world problems such as….wait…hold one….nevermind. None of their issues are issues, and many are just horrible soapboxes to be on. Let’s take a look.

Child Custody

They are often on about how custody battles are always in the favor of the mother, and men never get the chance. They even use lack of custody to justify not paying child support.

In reality, men far less often even ask for custody. When they do, and push for it, they very often get it.

Divorce

They claim that men are discriminated against in divorce hearings, for being male. Given the realities of custody, that men far less often ask for it, and our societal standards of women as caregivers for children, when you figure in time and expense of caring for children, women tend to end up far worse off, financially, in divorce results.

Education

They actually believe that men are oppressed in education, thanks to feminism. I’m not even sure what to say about this. It’s so not based in reality that it’s not even wrong. It’s just bizarre. How often do we hear that males are far better for STEM fields than females? How many athletic scholarships are there for males as opposed to females? Such a silly assertion.

The Criminalization of Marital Rape

This one’s great. They’re angry because feminists want to make marital rape illegal. Rape has to do with consent. If there is no consent, then it is rape. It doesn’t matter if the person is your spouse. Marriage does not give you universal rights over someone’s body. Even the thought of that blows my mind. If this is really a sticking point for you, if you are angry because you should have the right to do what you want to your wife at any time, you need to check yourself in for a mental health evaluation. You aren’t well.

Farrell 1

There’s a pretty large list of other topics, but they are so silly they aren’t even worth mentioning. Let’s look, now, at the leaders of the movement. It seems that, at least according to Wikipedia, a whole lot of their “causes” come from Warren Farrell. He’s a big name in the movement, and a very loud anti-feminism voice. So, we’ll start with him.

Warren Farrell

Wikipedia says that “He is now recognized as one of the most important figures in the modern men’s movement.” In fact, he used to be a feminist, and on the board of NoW.

According to Farrell, “Everything went well until the mid-seventies when NOW came out against the presumption of joint custody [of children following divorces]. I couldn’t believe the people I thought were pioneers in equality were saying that women should have the first option to have children or not to have children—that children should not have equal rights to their dad.”

So wait…his problem, his big overriding issue, that drove him from feminist to rampant misogynist, and building a movement against feminism, was…..joint custody.

Wow.

Since then, he’s written books and campaigned against feminism, and build the men’s rights movement quite a bit.

Oh, but he gets better.

In 1977, he was interviewed in Penthouse Magazine about…incest. It seems he fully supports the idea. Here’s what he had to say.

“When I get my most glowing positive cases, 6 out of 200, the incest is part of the family’s open, sensual style of life, wherein sex is an outgrowth of warmth and affection. It is more likely that the father has good sex with his wife, and his wife is likely to know and approve — and in one or two cases to join in.”

And…

“First, because millions of people who are now refraining from touching, holding, and genitally caressing their children, when that is really a part of a caring, loving expression, are repressing the sexuality of a lot of children and themselves. Maybe this needs repressing, and maybe it doesn’t. My book should at least begin the exploration.”

Oh, and also…

“Second, I’m finding that thousands of people in therapy for incest are being told, in essence , that their lives have been ruined by incest. In fact, their lives have not generally been affected as much by the incest as by the overall atmosphere. My book should help therapists put incest in perspective.”

And even…

“Incest is like a magnifying glass, in some circumstances it magnifies the beauty of the relationship…”

And finally…

“Since the father otherwise extends very little attention to his daughter, his sexual advances may be one of the few pleasant experiences she has with him.”

Let’s not forget, this man is one of the founders and a well regarded icon of the Men’s Rights Movement. This is the foundation of the movement itself. That speaks volumes.

Paul Elam

This is the current big name in Men’s Rights Activism, and runs A Voice for Men. He can be quoted saying “they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk though [sic] life with the equivalent of a [sic] I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.”

More recently, he attempted to hold a conference in Detroit, but after lying about death threats to the hotel they were being hosted at, it appears the hotel dropped them and they had to find another venue…which they also lied about.

He’s also quoted here, “feminism, consumer products, psychology, media, advertising, politics and social custom [have] all merged into one Great Big Bitch Machine; [and] the modern female psyche is nothing more than a product of that machine.”

W.F. Price

W.F. Price runs The Good Men Project. The project itself is nowhere near as horrible as the rest, but he can be quote here, commented on the death of a 22 year old.

“Four years of college buys women precious little time in the mating market. … I’d guess … about exactly as much time as it takes for them to complete it, because their pool of future mates tends to go through the same process … That’s to say that she has her best shot to land a good match up to perhaps 25.”

And here…

The problem with young women today is that they internalize this “anything is possible” attitude and don’t lose it until it really is too late for many of them. They think they can do better at 30 than at 22, which, in most cases, is simply wrong. Some might say that family and men are not a priority for these girls, but women for whom this is really true throughout life are an insignificant minority. In fact, most women are holding out precisely because they think they can get a better man later, perhaps when they have a better job and work with more powerful men.

But these girls are not going to change fundamentally, and in their early 20s are at the peak of their beauty while still retaining an innocent charm. Nothing about their looks or personality is going to make them more appealing at 30 than at 22, and the men available to them are not going to get any better, either….

The point is that neither men nor women change fundamentally past a certain point, and the same guys young women have available in their early 20s are generally the same guys that will be available at 30, only they will be older and, due to marriage, there will be far fewer of them.”

And then…

“Time tends to accelerate past a certain age, and the 25-year old woman soon finds herself 30, and then 35, and at that point she’s got precious little of it left. Perhaps at 22 she was laughing about the “comical” notion that it could ever be too late, but after a certain point it is no longer comedy, but tragedy, and her laughter turns to tears.”

And finally…

“[M]en do age better than women. I looked around at the women and they all just looked old to me. I could not imagine myself with any of them. They had lost whatever charm they had and I found attractive the last time I had seen them. Almost all of the men that were there with their spouses were with younger women. …

As for the women specifically, while they all seemed old, I noted that the happiest of the lot talked about their family. Some of them were married, some of them divorced, but in both cases they talked about their kids. They were clearly the most fulfilled. Many of the other women than I knew had pursued consuming careers were not at the reunion. Those that were, and who did not have children, had a whiff of pain on their faces. They seemed to be looking around and suddenly forced to face the consequences of their choices.”

Sadly, these aren’t his only horrible comments. There are so many more.

mensrights

 

Now, let’s look at the actions of the Men’s Rights Activists recently, to see what their intentions look like.

False Rape Reporting

In December of last year, Men’s Rights Activists on Reddit found out that Occidental College has an online form for rape reporting. Making the assumption that this was used to falsely report rape, regardless of actual reality, they started spamming it with false rape reports, in an effort to discredit women who are actually…reporting…rape….

Canada MRA Lectures

The MRA has, a couple of times, held lectures at the University of Toronto, that speak vehemently against Feminism. They spouted righteous indignance against the Feminist protests of these lectures, calling out the militancy of protesting them.

Praise of Marc Lepine

A couple years ago, an MRA blogger came out (with a lot of support) praising Marc Lepine. In 1989, Marc Lepine, at  École Polytechnique in Montreal, killed 28 people in the name of fighting Feminism.

Fake Death Threats

The MRA group planning the Detroit rally lied about death threats to raise an extra $25k for their rally. They claimed to need it for security. They have yet to prove those threats.

 mens-rights-activists-thats-the-joke

Now, I’d say that everything above speaks volumes about the movement. I assure you, however, that the members are worse. Here are some examples, taken from MRA sites, pages, and groups:

8 10 11

10262185_302032443293919_5789902301641465821_n 10414595_302045166625980_1177040833700501766_n 243523452 v34c45f235cf

Many more can be found here, at The Real Face of Men’s Rights Activism

Now, given all of this, it should be pretty clear that the Men’s Rights Movement isn’t designed or run with any noble or moral cause. It’s there to attack women and attack feminists, while glorifying its leaders.

And THAT is worth fighting against.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

More Sexism and Anti-Feminism in the Atheist Community

4320304_sexism_full2

I was on JT Eberhard‘s page today. He posted a nice shout out to Seth Andrews and Matt Dillahunty, and got a few pleasant and fun responses from there. Then entered Drakulian Rathburn, who has a lot of mutual friends as myself in the atheist community, with a strangely combative comment for the thread.

1

So, I asked the obvious question. How, exactly, was A+ designed to cause division? That led to quote a bit foot stomping and refusing to support his claims, while of course making more and more claims without basis.

It didn’t take long, however, for him to bring feminism into the mix.

2

He bounced away from the topic for a minute, but after being pushed further for evidence, he went straight into feminism with a fury. The level of ignorance was amazing to watch.

4

5

Then he must have finally gotten really upset with being asked to actually prove his assertions, so he just went for it, damn the consequences.

6

7

It was at this point that he blocked me. But it didn’t end there! He has a friend!

8

So, where should I start? The problems here are too many to count.

First, if you claim to be a rational, thinking person, and you refuse to uphold the burden of proof, and make more claims instead of providing evidence for claims you’ve made, then you’re lying; you are NOT a rational, thinking person. You’re an ideologue.

Second, Feminism does not promote the superiority of anyone. It promotes equality. If you don’t know at least that about Feminism, then you haven’t studied enough to even talk about the subject.

Third, something like a “safe space” created for women to not feel subjugated or harassed isn’t created for the benefit of men. It shouldn’t be created for the benefit of men. If you’re biggest argument against a safe space for women is that it doesn’t benefit men…you are the problem.

Fourth, if you’re arguing about Feminism and you start calling women “twats” or other derogatory terms, you lose any credibility in the discussion. You’re a misogynist who has nothing to add to any meaningful discourse.

Finally, if you want to debate someone, and you open the conversation by insulting them, you’re a spiteful toddler who shouldn’t be allowed in public unsupervised.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Sunday Best

ls1

One only need to go to the store, a restaurant, or simply out driving, on a Sunday to be able to aptly refute the concept that being religious makes someone somehow a good person. I spent some time out today, and it really illustrated this fact better than I ever could with words alone.

In the course of about two hours, I encountered hundreds of people dressed in their Sunday Best. Now, these aren’t their formal wear, for weddings or funerals. There’s a palpable difference in clothing between that and what someone sets aside purely for the purpose of that Sunday ritual called church. They’re sporting crosses and Jesus t-shirts and all the trappings of being deluded by the divine.

And they are MEAN.

They would cut me off and scream at me from their car, in front of their children, also dressed for church. They play bumper carts in stores, because they have to get done fast, and nobody better get in their way! At a buffet, someone even nearly knocked my food out of my hand, so they could get to their table a second or two faster by cutting me off.

I heard profanity, vitriol, yelling at children, yelling at each other. It brought back distinct memories of the days, long ago, when I attended church myself.

This may be an anecdotal rant, but I’m sure many of you are sporting a knowing grin as you read, because you see it too.

As a non-believer, and a Humanist, I strive everyday to treat people with respect, and love an ethical and morally sound life, focusing on the human well being of those around me. My “Sunday Best” has nothing to do with clothing, or miming some words in some building with a cross. My “Sunday Best” is my everyday best.

Those who are Humanists and read this know what I mean. Those are religious and read this, consider the above words the next time you put on your “Sunday Best” and head off to church. Your religious fervor doesn’t make you a good person. Your actions do.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

The Slippery Slope fallacy

Ahh, the slippery slope fallacy, a favorite of those that hold archaic ideologies.
This fallacy holds that to accept a premise, you must accept the extremes of that premise. Those that bring this up are ignoring that the original position was a moderate one. They immediately extrapolate it out to it’s absurd ends where the premise seems stupid or untenable.
An example of this is when discussions of pro-choice or pro-life crop up. Often (but not always) the proponents of pro-life will charge that those of the pro-choice camp only want the abortion of fetus’. This completely ignores the more moderate idea that a woman should have control over her reproductive system. This also assumes that the pro-choice person doesn’t believe that other paths are available to that woman.
Another popular slippery slope is made by hardcore gun enthusiasts when the subject of gun control comes up. I think it is fair to say that a majority of those favorable towards gun control would only want more through background checks to put into place and that weapons be registered in the state where they are kept. The enthusiast see this and believe that this is the first step towards the government making gun ownership illegal and to the mass confiscation of weapons of all types.

Until next time!

Contributor: Jonathan Tindell

A native Floridian living in Pennsylvania, eight year veteran of the United States Maine Corp that is in support of responsible gun control, and salesperson in the Oil and Gas industry that believes in climate change, Jonathan is almost the definition of a dichotomy.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.