Bask In the Glow of My Crapulant Halo

On this, the 6010th anniversary of the World’s supposed creation, the Barma Group releases a poll saying that 60% of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis. At least, they say they do. The problem with this and most religious polls is that they suffer from the Halo Effect.

Americans are raised form the time they are toddlers to say they believe in God because Saying You Believe in God is a signifier. It’s like a Galactic Hitchhiker’s towel; if you have a towel, most people will assume you also have a toothbrush, soap, space suit, etc, or had them at one time and simply misplaced them and so will gladly lend you whatever you’re lacking. Say You Believe in God and most Americans will assume, without any evidence, that you are a good and decent human being who sends their mother Birthday cards and is kind to puppies and children.

So, most people say they believe the Bible, Jesus, God or whatever will make you think they are a good person. They tell pollsters what they think they want to hear, not what is true. Truth is, most Americans don’t really believe any of these things. They just say they do. Probably about 20-30% really do believe these things to some degree but if pressed on the matter, will admit that OK, yeah, a talking snake is a little far fetched and maybe Geologists have a point and the Earth is really 4.5 Billion years old but still they Believe! Every other Sunday. For an hour. Maybe an hour and a half if the Sermon runs long.

The fact that + or – 25% of the population still believes this nonsense is anything but bronze age poetry is a problem and means that we nasty, vociferous atheists aren’t being loud enough. Thing is, it doesn’t take much to convince most people. You just have to ask questions gently, get them to think about how absurd religion is, which most people have simply never bothered to do and they’ll come around on their own. That little hard knot of Fundies and True Believers, well, they’re never going to learn, which is why we make fun of them. because it’s easier than breaking your forehead on a brick wall.

Via: PZ at Pharyngula.

Checking Out a Library Ghost

Via a commenter over at Phil Plait’s blog (where he’s discussing a wing ding of a doomsday prophet) I found this story of a Spooooky Library Ghost:

MOREHEAD CITY –There are strange things happening in the stacks of the Morehead City library.

Large books inexplicably leave the shelves and wind up on the floor. A light bulb fell from a fixture and landed upright, unbroken.

“It’s really interesting,” says Sandy Bell, director of the Webb Library and Civic Center. “None of the staff has felt threatened.”

Bell has no explanation for the incidents, but she says the building “does have an aura.”

According to Bell, a former library employee reported seeing spectral images of fishermen walking through as if on the way to the waterfront nearby.

She said unusual things seem to happen whenever the staff makes changes. For example, she said, she decided to move the children’s section from its longtime home upstairs to a new room downstairs. Soon after, she said, the staff left the library in perfect order and returned the next day to find large art books on the floor with the pages balled up.

“They were very expensive,” Bell said. “It was really kind of attention-getting when they started ending up on the floor with the pages all scrunched.”

Yeah, that is spooky. If by spooky you mean vandalism.

What is more probable: ghosts or some homeless guy who hangs out in the bathroom until everyone locks up and then makes himself at home in the stacks? Or better yet, absentminded librarians who just forget to put books away but swear they did, or at least meant to but maybe didn’t get around to it before quitting time?

As for the vandalized art book, having worked in an Art School Library for two years, I can’t tell you how often we find books with crumpled up or ripped out pages. It’s sad really because you’d think artists, or would-be artists would take care of expensive art books. And real artists do, because art books are expensive and most artists are poor. But the entitled twats who pass for students at our school can just get mommy and daddy to pay for it so whatever. Rrrriiiipppp. They at lea st make an effort to hide their vandalism, though.

Anyway, point is: There’s no such thing as a ghost.

Princeton is shutting down their ESP and Paranormal Reasearch program because after decades of inquiry, investigation and theorizing they’ve found… absolutely nothing. Which is good science. They gave it a fair shake, found no evidence to support the dubious claims and so are moving resources to more fruitful areas of interest. Maybe in a few years the gang at TAPS will catch up on the scientific trend and go back to being plumbers, which is at least a useful trade.

As for what these librarians are doing, well, they should be embarrassed. They’re making us sensible, skeptical librarians look bad.