Why There Are No Atheists at the Grand Canyon.

GRAND CANYON BLOG

Why There Are No Atheists at the Grand Canyon

All it takes is a little awe to make you feel religious

By Nov. 27, 201353 Comments
Joe Klamar / AFP / Getty ImagesThe Grand Canyon in Arizona on July 1, 2013

Any fool can feel religious around the holidays. When the entire Judeo-Christian world is lit up — literally — with celebrations of faith, family and love, you’ve got to be awfully short of wonder not to experience at least a glimmer of spirituality. The rest of the year? It can be a little harder.

But as generations of campers, sailors, hikers and explorers could attest, there’s nothing quite like nature — with its ability to elicit feelings of jaw-dropping awe — to make you contemplate the idea of a higher power. Now, a study published in Psychological Science applies the decidedly nonspiritual scientific method to that phenomenon and confirms that the awe-equals-religion equation is a very real and powerful experience — even among people who fancy themselves immune to such things.

The study, conducted by professor of psychology Piercarlo Valdesolo of Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., and psychologist Jesse Graham of the University of Southern California, was actually five studies, all of which were designed to elicit feelings of awe in subjects and see how that affected their sense of spirituality. In all of the trials, subjects were primed with one of several types of video clip: a 1959 TV interview conducted by newsman Mike Wallace; light scenes of animals behaving in funny or improbable ways; or sweeping scenes of nature — mountains, canyons, outer space — from a BBC documentary. Some of the subjects were also shown more surreal, computer-generated scenes: lions flying out of buildings, a waterfall flowing through a city street.

The subjects were all then administered one or more questionnaires. One asked them straightforwardly, “To what extent did you experience awe while watching the video clip?” Another asked them to respond to questions about their belief in a universe that either does or doesn’t “unfold according to God’s or some other nonhuman entity’s plan.” Another asked them about their tolerance for uncertainty or ambiguity.

Valdesolo and Graham’s working premise was first, that spirituality and belief in God are not fixed things. While atheists on the one hand and people of deep faith on the other don’t move off their baseline positions much (though even they have periods of doubt), the rest of us are more influenced by experiences. Thus, the subjects who had felt more wonder or awe when they’d watched the grand or surreal videos would score higher on belief in a universe that proceeds according to a master plan than subjects who saw lighter or more prosaic clips. They would also score lower in their tolerance for uncertainty — and that was key.

US-FEATURE-GRAND CANYON

All awe contains a slight element of fear or at least vulnerability, and the sooner we have an explanation for what it is we’re seeing and how it came to be, the more reassured we are. Think how often we comfort a child who’s just been frightened by something new and scary with an explanation like, “It’s just thunder” or lightning or a blimp or a parade balloon. And think how often it works. We do something similar with ourselves when we seek a spiritual answer for things we can’t otherwise explain.

“This is very much an intuitive relationship between an emotional state and a religious state,” says Valdesolo. “We can make you feel awe and that’s going to trigger your belief in the presence and power of a supernatural being.” Valdesolo and Graham wisely sidestep any question about the validity of those beliefs. They could hardly prove the point one way or the other, and the issue was irrelevant to their work anyway. They were only looking at what does and doesn’t elicit religious feelings — regardless of the legitimacy of them.

A final, very clever element of the study was to ask people who either had or hadn’t been awed to look at several 12-digit strings of 1’s and 2’s and to guess, on a scale of one to 10, the likelihood that they were either randomly generated by a computer or designed by a human. The numbers were in fact computer generated, but the subjects who’d experienced awe were likelier to attribute them to a human.

“Awe makes people want to see events as the result of design,” Valdesolo says. “That could be God or humans, depending on context.”

If that’s so however, couldn’t the awe-inspiring also be explained by the random interplay of chemistry, physics and time — nature in other words — rather than a spiritual being? And if so, couldn’t scenes of space or the Grand Canyon make you seek answers by becoming an astronomer or a geologist, rather than looking to religion? Maybe, but Valdesolo believes that’s a less common reaction.

“The laws of nature do not seem to be what satisfies the sense of uncertainty that awe elicits,” he says. “If I throw 10 people at the Grand Canyon and ask how many come away with a secular answer and how many come away spiritual, I’d tip the scales in favor of spiritual.” Like it or not, awe trumps empiricism — and like it or not too, we’d probably be a poorer species if it didn’t.

The Most Dangerous Religion in America: The Liberal God Delusion.

liberal god delusion copy

The Liberal God Delusion

Our government has been hijacked by a party obsessed with a higher power. But I’m not talking about the GOP. I’m talking about the left and their worship of government.

As Washington staggers into a new year, one side of the political spectrum polarizes and paralyzes all ongoing debates due to its irrational reliance on a higher power.

The problem isn’t religious conservatives and their abiding faith in God; it’s mainstream liberals and their blind confidence in government.

Consider the current dispute over the right response to gun violence. At its core, this argument comes down to a visceral disagreement between relying on self-defense or on government protection. Gun-rights enthusiasts insist that the best security for law-abiding citizens comes from placing formidable firearms into their hands; gun-control advocates believe we can protect the public far more effectively by taking guns away from as many Americans as possible. In other words, conservatives want to address the threat of gun violence by giving individuals more power while liberals seek to improve the situation by concentrating more power in the hands of the government. The right preaches self-reliance while the left places its trust in the higher power of government.

The same dynamic characterizes most of today’s foreign-policy and defense debates. Right-wingers passionately proclaim the ideal of “peace through strength,” arguing that a powerful, self-confident America with dominant military resources remains the only guarantee of national security. Progressives, on the other hand, dream of multilateral consensus, comprehensive treaties, disarmament, grand peace deals, and vastly enhanced authority for the United Nations. Once again, liberals place a touching and naive faith in the ideal of a higher power—potential world government—while conservatives insist that the United States, like any nation, must ultimately rely only on itself.

Regarding the great tax-and-spend battles presently pushing the nation ever closer toward the dreaded fiscal cliff, the right argues that the economy will perform better if money is controlled by those who earn it while the left wants to government to make better, more generous decisions on how to invest that money. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary from the failed welfare states of Western Europe, liberals maintain unwavering devotion to the notion that taking funds out of the private sector will miraculously generate more private-sector economic growth. Republicans trust the private decisions of prosperous people to make the best use of the money that those citizens have generated; Democrats rely on the superior wisdom and broader perspective of a larger, more activist government to distribute rewards and plan for the future in a complex economy.

In selecting strategies for helping the poor and uplifting the downtrodden, the opposed approaches of left and right offer an especially sharp contrast. According to Arthur Brooks’s important book Who Really Cares and many other studies, conservatives at every income level provide disproportionate support for private charities. On my radio show, we spent the holiday season raising nearly $50,000 for the Salvation Army with its focus on rescuing substance abusers, the homeless, and disaster victims from their miserable circumstances. Liberals, on the other hand, consider such private efforts insufficient and demand governmental initiatives and interventions to supplement the private armies of compassion.

This raises an uncomfortable question for true believers of the left: if organizations like the Salvation Army have indeed done a phenomenal job over many decades in turning lives around and bringing hope to the hopeless, why wouldn’t government want to invest its resources in supporting these operations rather than launching their own bureaucratic efforts? If private charities aren’t large enough at the moment to cope with the epic dimensions of poverty-related problems, wouldn’t government funding to expand these proven organizations provide a better investment—reaching more people at lower cost—than any costly federal start-up?

The contemptuous refusal even to consider such an approach stems from two sources: a liberal belief in totally restructuring a broken society rather than merely repairing the broken lives of individuals, and the related belief in the healing, transformative power of top-down, government-instituted change.

There’s also the inevitable tendency of any fanatical faith to despise and distrust all religious alternatives: liberalism can be a jealous god. Most progressives would therefore prefer to commit trillions to purely secular (and mostly dubious) federal and state antipoverty efforts rather than spending less money for more results if those investments involved proven charities with religious agendas.

The left’s contempt for religious conservatives stems in part from the false assumption that people of faith place irrational reliance on the role of God in solving all the world’s problems. Occasional comments by Christian right-wingers—like the rightly derided suggestion that the Newtown massacre resulted from an absence of prayer in public schools—give some credence to this unflattering caricature.

But mainstream conservatism has never denied the importance of human effort or governmental leadership in addressing dire circumstances or everyday difficulties: after all, Republican heroes of history from Lincoln to Reagan have been powerful presidents, not merely passive and prayerful observers. Yes, most religious conservatives hope for divine favor for the land they love but simultaneously embrace the old saw, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Liberals, on the other hand, place their confidence in the notion that “Government helps those who can’t help themselves”—a proposition that’s questionable in both its components. First, it’s wrong and destructive to believe that any America is truly helpless and second, it’s arguable whether government reliably helps more than it hurts when it expands its power into our daily lives.

Fair-minded people of all perspectives should agree that any form of uncompromising, unquestioned, illogical faith can poison public discourse and derail important debates. There’s no effective rejoinder to the declaration that “God tells me that that I’m right and I refuse to consider other arguments.”

There is similarly no easy response to the insistence that “I know that government can fix this problem and don’t confuse me with evidence to the contrary.”

In the wake of Obama’s reelection, unreasoning reliance on federal power distorts our politics far more destructively than simple-minded faith in God. At the moment, big-government fundamentalism poses more of a threat to the republic than religious absolutism.

Kanye West on Obama’s Failures: ‘Black People Don’t Have the Same Connections as Jewish People’

Kanye West on Obama’s Failures: ‘Black People Don’t Have the Same Connections as Jewish People’

By Noel Sheppard | November 27, 2013 | 19:39

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You know why Barack Obama is having problems executing his agenda?

Rapper Kanye West told 105.1 FM radio in New York City earlier this week that it’s because “Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people” (video follows with transcript and commentary):

KANYE WEST: We don’t got it like that. When I tell you only seven black billionaires, look at marginalization, and we feel like we happy because me and Rick Ross got it made, or I got a spread outside, a couple of us, or they put a black president.

Man, let me tell you something about George Bush and oil money and Obama and no money. People want to say Obama can’t make these moves or he’s not executing. That’s because he ain’t got those connections. Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people. Black people don’t have the same connection as oil people.

You know we don’t know nobody that got a nice house. You know we don’t know nobody with paper like that we can go to when we down. You know they can just put us back or put us in a corporation. You know we ain’t in situation. Can you guarantee that your daughter can get a job at this radio station? But if you own this radio station, you could guarantee that. That’s what I’m talking about.

I’m not sure what connections in the business world have to do with executing as president once you’re in office, do you?

Frankly, I think Obama’s failures have more to do with the fact that he never was in the business world and never ran anything.

That said, I guess West wasn’t aware that in the 2012 campaign, Obama’s connections helped him raise and spend more money than Mitt Romney.

Forbes reported in October 2012 about Obama’s top backers:

James Simons: $4.1 million

The hedge fund ‘quant king’ is the biggest billionaire donor to the left, giving $2 million to Obama-backing super PAC Priorities USA Action as well as supporting left-leaning Majority PAC and House Majority PAC.

– Irwin Jacobs : $2.1 million

The retired head of chip manufacturer Qualcomm also cut a $2 million check to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing Obama’s reelection.

– Jon Stryker: $2 million

Medical device heir, like Jacobs and Simons, pitched in $2 million to Priorities USA Action. He’s also a longtime donor to LGBT causes.

– Anne Cox Chambers: $1.6 million

The 92-year-old Cox Enterprises TV billionaire backed Obama supporters Priorities USA Action.

– George Soros: $1.275 million

The legendary investor hasn’t supported Obama directly, but he’s contributed to left-leaning groups Majority PAC, House Majority PAC, and American Bridge 21st Century.

– Haim Saban: $1 million

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers mogul has divided his donation between C Priorities USA Action and left-leaning Majority PAC and House Majority PAC.

The following are Obama For America’s top billionaire ‘bundlers’, who’ve fundraised from their wealthy networks rather than given directly to any super PAC or other outside group. Obama’s campaign team provides a range rather than actual numbers.

– David Shaw, New York hedge funder: $500k+

– James Crown, of the Henry Crown dynasty of investors: $500k+

– Marc Lasry, New York hedge funder: $500k+

– Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.com: $500k+

– Penny Pritzker, business executive and Hyatt hotel heiress: $200k-$500k

As for George W. Bush, his net worth is estimated to be $35 million. West’s is $100 million.

Makes you sorry for him, doesn’t it?

About the Author

Noel Sheppard is the Associate Editor of NewsBusters. Click here to follow Noel Sheppard on Twitter.

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2013/11/27/kanye-west-obamas-failures-black-people-don-t-have-same-connections-j#ixzz2lxfmYuEH

The Great Destroyer.

 destroyer

The Great Destroyer

ObamaCare wreaks havoc on health care, the economy, American freedom and Obama’s presidency.

By

PETE DU PONT

CONNECT

Nov. 25, 2013 8:32 p.m. ET
Polls show an increasing majority of Americans dislike President Obama’s health-care law and disapprove of the job the president is doing. Perhaps more disconcerting for Mr. Obama is a recent Quinnipiac University poll that finds, for the first time in his presidency, a majority (54%) of registered voters feel he is not honest and trustworthy.In response, the administration rolls out ObamaCare delays or stopgap fixes just a month after Republicans were labeled extremists for proposing delays and fixes. The White House tries shifting blame for the embarrassing rollout to others—information technology contractors, insurance companies and of course, Republicans. The administration is even working to discourage use of the word “ObamaCare,” which the president had proudly embraced before the law encountered reality.Most interestingly, the administration and congressional Democrats seem genuinely surprised that their prized legislation, which was to be the crown jewel of the president’s legacy and the culmination of decades of liberal ambition, simply doesn’t work.
WORST THING BLOG INSERT
Did these folks ever study history, economics or sociology? If they had, they would have known there was little chance of success for their attempt to snatch one-sixth of our economy and thrust it under a complex set of bureaucratic regulations, market disincentives, higher costs and new taxes.Large government interventions in the market almost always fall short of their backers’ dreams (although not usually this rapidly). Such programs suffer from a common set of flaws, all of which are found in ObamaCare. First, and perhaps foremost, is the hubris inherent in the assumption that bureaucrats in Washington (or Moscow, Beijing or Pyongyang) know better than families, individuals and businesses do what is best for them.We also often find a certain “looseness” with the facts. There is overpromising at the beginning. Mr. Obama actually promised to provide better health care to more people while spending less money. While some of us saw that was obviously absurd, many are just now coming to this realization. We were told we could keep our existing plan if we liked it, “period.” But it turns out that means “only as long as the government, in its wisdom, decides it’s right for you.” The posturing and spinning continues as the administration tries to inflate the pathetically low enrollment figures. The left’s mindset is that such obfuscation (to be generous) is fine as long as it is deployed in the furtherance of the greater good, which they see as coming only from their policies.

Obamacare poison

ObamaCare embodies the usual hypocrisy of large liberal programs, as the administration bestows benefits and exemptions on favored constituencies and the politically connected. We see waivers for big labor, relief from inconvenient mandates for congressional staff, and decisions timed to minimize harm to Democrats in the next election. Conversely, those who don’t have politically correct views are ignored or mocked. We see lip service given to conscientious objections to abortion and birth control, but ObamaCare policies that run roughshod over these objections.

Perhaps most disappointing, we can observe in the administration’s handling of ObamaCare a now all too familiar subversion of the rule of law, a fundamental precept of our nation’s founding and of democracies everywhere. George Will notes that the administration has apparently decided it can adopt legislation by press conference as Mr. Obama simply announces changes to the law or that he will not enforce certain provisions. His administration then proceeds to strong-arm businesses and demonize critics.

There is the usual governmental failure to anticipate how people respond to economic incentives. Why would the administration expect the required large numbers of healthy, young people to enroll in ObamaCare in response to higher premiums? Why would the administration expect businesses to refrain from adjusting their staffing decisions based on the additional cost of ObamaCare?

Finally, we see the familiar curse of unintended consequences as the fantasy of better, more affordable insurance with more options runs into the reality of higher costs and fewer options. The failed exchange and the cancelled plans were just the beginning, followed by sticker shock at the cost of the government-mandated coverage and doctors being dropped from networks or opting out.

We don’t yet know every way in which ObamaCare will damage our health-care system, our economy and our freedom, but we can be sure more pain is coming.

Duke Rape Accuser Got 160 TV News Stories on Accusation, 3 on Murder Conviction.

Duke Rape Accuser Got 160 TV News Stories on Accusation, 3 on Murder Conviction

November 27, 2013 – 2:22 PM

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crystal mangumCrystal Mangum, who falsely accused 3 Duke lacrosse players of sexual crimes in 2006, was convicted of second-degree murder on Nov. 22, 2013. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – When Crystal Mangum falsely accused several Duke lacrosse players of rape in 2006, there were 160 television news stories in the first five days after the players were arrested, but in 2013, when Mangum was convicted of murder and sentenced to 14 years in prison, there were only 3 television news stories, a difference in coverage of 5,233%.

When the Duke lacrosse-rape story broke in March/April 2006, it was huge news, garnering massive, widespread coverage by the networks ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as by FOX, CNN and MSNBC, and the print press, such as USA Today, New York Times and Washington Post.

Basically, the story was that members of the Duke lacrosse team had  a party on March 13, 2006 at an off-campus house where two strippers had been hired to perform – one of them was Crystal Mangum, then 27 years old. At some point there were some verbal exchanges between Mangum and some persons at the party. Mangum left with the other stripper and later that evening/early morning Mangum told police she had been raped.

nifong, mangumFormer North Carolina District Attorney prosecutor Mike Nifong, a Democrat, who was disbarred for his conduct in prosecuting the Duke lacrosse players and was later convicted of criminal contempt of court. (AP)

The story was explosive and politically correct: privileged white lacrosse players at a prestigious college rape underprivileged young black woman. As events developed, three lacrosse players were eventually arrested and charged; the Duke lacrosse coach, Mike Pressler, received threatening phone calls and was forced by Duke to resign; the president of Duke University, Richard Brodhead, suspended the entire lacrosse team for the season; liberal Duke faculty members, the “Group of 88,” signed an advertisement in the Duke Chronicle that reportedly  suggested the rape claims were true; the initial prosecutor, Mike Nifong, was disbarred for his misconduct and convicted of criminal contempt; all charges against the 3 players – Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans – were dropped.

Although the rape claims by Mangum were totally false, she was not charged with a crime.

The lacrosse players Finnerty and Seligmann were arrested on Apr. 18, 2006, and charged with rape and kidnapping. In the five days following, Apr. 18 – 22, a Nexis news search of the terms Duke, rape, and lacrosse in “All English Language News,” shows there were 673 news stories, 160 of which were from television news outlets and NPR.

Those 160 television news outlets included ABC’s World News Tonight, Nightline, Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, the Today show, NBC Nightly News, CNN Live, Fox News, MSNBC’s Scarborough Country and Countdown, and myriad other TV news programs.

williamsNBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. (AP)

Last Friday, Nov. 22, Crystal Mangum, the false Duke-rape accuser, was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder – she had stabbed her boyfriend – and sentenced to 14 years in prison.  In the five days since, Nov. 22-26, a Nexis news search of the words Crystal Mangum, murder, Duke, and lacrosse in “All English Language News” reveals there were 48 total news stories but only 3 television news reports – one on Fox and two on CNN.

The big television networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC – and the liberal MSNBC and NPR did not report on Mangum’s murder conviction.

The difference in coverage is noteworthy:  160 stories vs. 3 stories in the first five days of each event. That’s a ratio of 53 to 1, and a difference in coverage of 5,233%.

The television news industry (and NPR) gave 5,233% more coverage to the dubious allegations against the three lacrosse players — which were proven to be completely false and politically charged — than they gave the jury-tried murder conviction of Crystal Mangum, the false accuser.

Obamacare Event Hands Out Condoms as Prizes.

Obamacare Event Hands Out Condoms as Prizes

9:15 AM, NOV 27, 2013 • BY DANIEL HALPER

An Obamacare event in Arkansas offered a prize for those who attended: Free condoms.

The Obamacare event took place at the University of Central Arkansas last weekend. It was hosted by a group called the Living Affected Corporation, which apparently has received a grant from the federal government to educate the public about Obamacare.

The event organizer spilled out a bag of condoms — as a couple whoops and hollers could be heard from the small crowd.

Then she says, “Ok, if anyone wants a paper application,” but she interrupts herself to pickup condoms that had fallen on the floor. “I have those as well.”

“So when you’re leaving, you can stop by my table and I’ll give you whatever — condoms — that box has a bunch in it. Anyway … Our corporation, LA Corp … And I’m waiting on my dental dams and female condom order that still hasn’t come in. If you ever need condoms, let me know because we have thousands — boxes of magnums, we get magnums a lot. So here is the prize table.”

The condom give-away was a training event with young Democrats, I’m told.

Obama’s call to close Vatican embassy is ‘slap in the face’ to Roman Catholics.

Obama’s call to close Vatican embassy is ‘slap in the face’ to Roman Catholics 

People crowd St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, on occasion of the celebration of the Easter mass Sunday, March 31, 2013. Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter's Square, which is packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and Romans. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

People crowd St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on occasion of the celebration of the Easter mass Sunday, March 31, 2013. Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter’s Square, which is packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and Romans. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

By Cheryl K. Chumley

The Washington Times

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Obama administration, in what’s been called an egregious slap in the face to the Vatican, has moved to shut down the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See — a free-standing facility — and relocate offices onto the grounds of the larger American Embassy in Italy.

The new offices will be in a separate building on the property, Breitbart reported.


And while U.S. officials are touting the relocation as a security measure that’s a cautionary reaction to last year’s attacks on America’s facility in Benghazi, several former American envoys are raising the red flag.

It’s a “massive downgrade of U.S.-Vatican ties,” said former U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson in the National Catholic Reporter. “It’s turning this embassy into a stepchild of the embassy to Italy. The Holy See is a pivot point for international affairs and a major listening post for the United States, and … [it’s] an insult to American Catholics and to the Vatican.”

Mr. Nicholson — whose views were echoed by former envoys Francis RooneyMary Ann GlendonRaymond Flynn and Thomas Melady — also called the justification for closing the existing facility a “smokescreen,” Breitbart reported.

“That’s like saying people get killed on highways because they drive cars on them,” he said in the report. “We’re not a pauper nation … if we want to secure an embassy, we certainly can.”

Moreover, the existing facility has “state of the art” security, he said.

Mr. Flynn, meanwhile, said the administration’s announcement reflects a hostility toward the Catholic Church.

“It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See,” he said in the National Catholic Reporter. “[There’s no] diplomatic or political benefit to the United States” from the relocation at all, he added.

Catholic Vote, a publication for the Church community, called the move “an unmistakable slap in the face” that clearly communicates that the United States cares little for the diplomatic facility.

And Mr. Nicholson went on, as Breitbart reported: “It’s another manifestation of the antipathy of this administration both to Catholics and to the Vatican — and to Christians in the Middle East. This is a key post for intermediation in so many sovereignties but particularly in the Middle East. This is anything but a good time to diminish the stature of this post. To diminish the stature of this post is to diminish its influence.”