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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

A Rush to Forward – email chains and critical thinking

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(This article first appeared in slightly different form on the SWIFT blog of the James Randi Education Foundation.)

Opportunities to expose people to critical thinking occur frequently. Last week I received one of those emails we all get on occasion, one that had been forwarded several times, each time with a dozen or so addressees. The oldest email in the chain was dated November 16, but referred to an event that occurred mid September, 2009.   I’ve posted it below, with the copy exactly as it appeared:

I hope this makes it to every person in Texas….we need to shut this store down FOR GOOD!!

Today I went to the Harwin Central Mall to pick up some crystals. The very first store that you come to when you walk from the lobby of the building into the shopping area had this sign posted on their door. The shop is run by Muslims. I couldn’t stay in the building, it made me so sick.


Feel free to share this with others.

Imam Ali flew one of the planes into the twin towers. Nice huh?

The first thing I did when receiving this was to Google for a list of the 9-11 hijackers, which I easily found on several sites, including an FBI press release. Of course, Imam Ali was not on the list. Since I’m a bit of a history buff (although by no means an expert), I knew that “Imam Ali (A.S.)” was the assassinated fourth Caliph, and the son-in-law of Mohammed. Disputes regarding the successors to Mohammed and Ali’s murder contributed to the conflicts that led to the split of Islam between the Sunni and Shia sects.

Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, the anniversaries change dates as related to the Western calendar, and this year the anniversary of his murder happened to fall on September 11. This is a holy date to the Shia community, and each year millions gather to mourn and commemorate. This is a religious event, but it is also important historically.

I’m not a fan of any religion. However, I am against discrimination, stereotypes, ignorance of history, and a failure to check out facts. The news story was carried on Houston affiliates, such as the local ABC station, who covered the story : “The sign was posted on a store…What it said caused so much controversy it’s been blogged about on the Internet and store managers have been threatened and harassed.” (Emphasis added). Other news articles, referred to angry Internet bloggers, but also people who expressed apologies for overreacting without knowing the facts.

Those reactions, and the threats received by the store owners, were based on ignorance. Most Westerners have little or no knowledge of world history in anything but general terms, and that tends to be dominated by northern European or western hemisphere political events. History about religions is not typically addressed. Like everyone, I also get many emails forwarded to me that contain warnings, urban legends, and other false information that can usually be quickly verified by checking on  online – in fact, Snopes covered this within days. Warning someone about flesh-eating bacteria on banana peels probably doesn’t cause anyone harm, but threats to boycott and false information that leads someone to be threatened or abused, can cause injury.

The store owner, Imran Chunawala, closes his shop every year for this anniversary, and was surprised by the reaction. When informed about the controversy regarding the date, he issued an apology and posted a new sign explaining who Imam Ali was, and the coincidence on it occurring on September 11 this year. (Note: The Christian holiday of Easter is also based in part on a lunar calendar, which is why it falls on a different date each year.)

The brouhaha was based on a misunderstanding, which has been cleared up, at least locally. However, the email came from a friend in another part of the state, two months after the incident. When I received it, I wrote a “reply all” to my friend, explaining the significance of the date, asked her to not forward it again and to send my note back to the person from whom she had received the email. Reactions were mixed.  From her, a reply that ‘how could she possibly know about Imam Ali’ and from one other person, a thank you. I wonder how long that email will be passed along without being critically reviewed, researched, or even questioned, and what continued anger it may generate.

Written by Geek Goddess

November 25, 2009 at 8:46 am

Opti-Wash Redemption Contact Solution…..

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Are you tired of protein deposits, irritated eyes, and wickedness?

Fear of corneal ulceration and eternal torment in a lake of fire got you down?

Redemption is finally at hand!

OPTI-WASH Redemption contact solution maintains a thin layer of righteous moisture on the surface of your lenses, so they feel fresh and moist for divine comfort throughout the day. And only new OPTI-WASH Redemption, with its complex blend of lubricants, moisturizers, preservatives, and holy water, washes away both lens debris and the day-to-day build up of sin.

When contact lenses are soaked in OPTI-WASH Redemption contact solution, the surface of the lens is reconditioned and blessed every night by adsorbing a proprietary reconditioning and sanctification system. This allows a layer of moisture from your natural tears to be formed on the lens surface, and for the accumulation of transgressions to easily rinse away .

OPTI-WASH Redemption incorporates new ingredients to a disinfection/purgation system that has been used for nearly 2,000 years. Alcon, in cooperation with the Catholic Church continues to develop biblically based technology to care for the new types of contact lenses available. This focus has allowed OPTI-WASH Redemption to continue to achieve a high level of disinfection against both bacteria, fungi, and iniquity.

Always use the contact solution prescribed by your eye doctor or priest. Ask your eye doctor or priest if OPTI-WASH Redemption is right for you. Remember, only your eye doctor or priest can determine the contact lens, solution, and reconciliation combination that is right for you.

Written by skepticpedi

May 6, 2009 at 9:30 am

Posted in Religion, Satire

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Unintelligent Design…..

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If man was created in god’s image, then god has lower back pain and an enlarged prostate.

Written by skepticpedi

April 23, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Posted in Evolution, Religion

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Prayer in the Information Age…..

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Now I am not a religions man. Far from it in fact. So I can claim no theological expertise. Regardless of my lacking Biblical fund of knowledge, I can’t help but think that Information Age Prayer, a new subscription prayer service, would be offensive to those who believe in the Judeo-Christian deity. IAP, which was founded in 2009, claims to harnass the power of technology to strengthen their subscribers’ connection with God, and to do away with the stress of worrying about forgetting to say a daily prayer (do Christians really worry about this?).

According to the company website,

“Information Age Prayer is a subscription service utilizing a text-to-speech entity (a computer) to incant your prayers each day. We use state of the art text-to-speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying. Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen. If the prayer is for someone else, then that name is displayed on screen instead. Your privacy is protected, all prayers are not audible outside of the Information Age Prayer location. While it is certain that God hears the prayers, we cannot guarantee that other supernatural beings do not overhear or otherwise obtain knowledge of them.”

Also,

“The omniscient God knows exactly who has subscribed and who each prayer is from when their name is displayed on screen and their prayer voiced.”

God is, according to the creators of IAP, omniscient but apparantly requires visual aids in order to know who to give credit for the prayer. But being omniscient, this God should know what a person needs help with before they even know that they need help for it. God, in fact, is the reason that person needs help in the first place. So it would seem that the content of the prayer should be irrelevant and that the physical act of performing it is what matters, leaving me to wonder how any Christian, Jew, or Muslim would think that this service is anything more that an attempt to make money off of credulous morons.

For $4.95 a month, for instance, you can pay to have a computerized voice decrease a loved one’s time spent in purgatory with a daily Prayer for the Deceased, or for a bargain at $19.95 a month you can choose the lengthy Catholic Morning Prayer. There are also options for those of Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and unaffiliated persuasions as well. I could find none that called for the smiting of enemies however.

The company makes no claims of efficacy, but honestly I don’t think it will matter. I’ve met enough people that tout Pascal’s Wager as a reason to believe to know that this company will do just fine.

Written by skepticpedi

March 27, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Posted in Religion

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