Posts Tagged ‘witchcraft’

This Week In Crackpottery #1: Witch Hunts, Psychics, AGW Deniers, & Hindu Nationalists

January 15, 2012

So I had originally thought of calling this regular column This Week In Fucked Up Religious Shit, but a few problems came to mind. For one thing, there are lots of non-religious infuriating, hilarious, or otherwise crazy shit I would have to ignore: psychics, alternative medicine, fringe politics, conspiracy theories, North Korea, and a lot more. Also, I’d eventually collide with the problem of trying to delineate between what does and does not qualify as a religion, which can be tricky at times. I’d rather leave that problem to the IRS.

Anyway, I’m going to try to regularly write about some of the craziest shit that happens throughout the week. When I’m feeling more patient, I’ll try to actually explain how people’s thinking has gone wrong and how we can actually know that, but there will be plenty of mockery too. Sometimes that’s the most appropriate response.

So let’s get to it:

Notorious Nigerian witch-hunter to preach in the US

If you thought religious trolls in America were bad you can take some comfort in that you don’t live in Nigeria, where actual witch hunts are still taking place. I don’t mean some kind of Arthur Miller metaphor for an irrational hysterical atmosphere of false confessions prompted by accusations based on conjecture and hearsay; I mean the HEY LOOK DELMAR THERE’S A WITCH LET’S DONE KILL IT kind of witch hunt.

The good news is that even Houston, Texas doesn’t have a local expert in witch hunting. The bad news is that they’re flying one in to preach at them about the final solution to the witchcraft problem. Her name’s Helen Ukpabio and she’s a “Lady Apostle” at the Liberty Gospel Church. She’s going to be doing something called a “Marathon Deliverance” for 12 days in March.

The poster advertising her visit is lots of fun. For instance, if you have any of the following conditions, please consult your local witch hunter for exorcism and deliverance:

  • Having bad dreams
  • Financial impotency and difficulties
  • Unsuccessful life with disappointments
  • Possessed by mermaid spirit and other evil spirits

So whether you’re poor or sometimes disappointed, or you’re possessed by those pesky mermaid spirits (and who isn’t these days?), Ukpabio can help you “receive freedom from the Lord.”

It’s just too bad she’s incapable of offering her victims freedom from herself. See, the witch hunting problem in Nigeria has gotten so bad that some extremely brave humanists have been organizing efforts to educate people on how we know that people like Ukpabio are dangerous and evil and wrong. Stepping Stones Nigeria has been the victim of attacks from Ukpabio’s Liberty Gospel Church, when members invaded their seminars, beating people up and stealing things.

And true to religious troll form, Ukpabio had the mermaid balls to actually sue SSN for depriving her church of the right to believe in witchcraft. The good news is that Ukpabio apparently believes that when people are presented with the facts about the witch hunting craze, they can’t go on believing in it. The bad news is that that’s just not true, case in point being the fact that she’s preaching the same nonsense here in America in 2011.

Imagine how much cognitive dissonance you’d have to ignore to run an organization devoted to stopping a particular religion (i.e. paganism, animism, or whatever they mean by witchcraft) and then turn around and sue someone else on the false grounds that they’re doing the same thing, which you really are doing.

Hopefully there will be some organized protests against this hateful lying bitch in Houston, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, check out this video she made about How Witchcraft Works. I could only watch a minute or so at a time without pacing around like an inmate in a psych ward that’s running low on medication, so you know, be warned.

Coast to Coast AM’s New Year’s Prediction Show

Former C2C AM host Art Bell, seen here recording a Bauhaus album.

Besides the Twilight Zone marathon, the best thing about New Year’s is how the “psychic” industry clings to the change in calendars in order to make a bunch of predictions for the next 12 months. The problem in writing about this is that these people usually do this on their own websites, which of course they can alter or delete when their predictions fail.

So the good folks at Something Awful are archiving a few of the predictions from one outlet in particular: Everyone’s favorite late-night radio talk show for truckers on massive amounts of amphetamines, Coast to Coast AM. Besides keeping a reliable archive to fact-check when it comes time for next year’s fake psychic circlejerk, it’s a nice case study in how psychics give the superficial appearance of having supernatural powers. Also, they’re pretty funny. For example:

Major earthquake in central/northern California in May.

Fuzzy language is a good way to cover your bases if you’re pretending to have magical powers. What makes an earthquake “major?” It’s not clearly defined anywhere. Of course there is seismic activity all the time all over California. So all you have to do to call this prediction a hit is take all the seismic data, find the day with the most activity during May, and call that a “major” earthquake. Other predictions use a similar approach by referring to “a plane between life and death,” “a major find of buried treasure,” “More tornadoes than usual,” “bad weather,” and a “very large object.”

Some predictions are just mundane and probable, if only because they’re based on things which are already happening. The economy will slowly improve, you say? Wow, what a risky prediction! Even if we all get hit with the coming global super-collapse of all civilization in six months, whoever predicted the economy slowly getting better can still claim accuracy since the economy slowly got better for a few months.

And then some of these predictions contradict each other. Also, they’ll never fucking happen:

Hillary Clinton will win the election over Obama.

Donald Trump will win the election as a third party nominee.

Obama… will cancel the election in November.

Bigfoot will be elected to the presidency.

And some are just incoherent and goofy:

Ron Paul will win the Republican nomination, but it will end up that drag queen RuPaul won through some accident in the vote count.

End of days will become disco nights. Blondie will write the sequel to the Rapture. The three wise men will be some three wise guys.

One domestic and one natural, with one being unnatural, will change the outcome of the election.

Finding a whole new species of human beings.

The Earth will supernova because of nitrogen and helium in the core of the Earth, not molten iron like everyone thinks it is.

So, uh… yeah. Be on the lookout for that stuff, too!

Fox News columnist offering $500 for someone to disrupt a science documentary about climate change

Remember back when Charlie Sheen was a thing and he was bitching and whining about how he only bought hookers because he didn’t know what to do with all his money? Junk science enthusiast and Fox propagandist Steve Milloy doesn’t have that problem. Miloy’s even more passionate about his bad ideas than Charlie Sheen is, so he’s willing to throw money at anyone stupid enough to repeat his nonsense in public.

There’s a screening of a documentary on climate change this Monday, January 9. Milloy wants to pay someone $500 to ask a question for him at the panel afterwards, because he’s way too much of a coward to do it himself. And even though he hasn’t seen the documentary, he knows his question won’t be covered in it. The problem for him is that it won’t be covered in the documentary because his question is stupid:

How long will it take for the 3 x 1023 drops of water in the Himalayan glaciers to disappear?

What prompts his stupid question is that the press release of the documentary mentions that the Himalayan glaciers are “disappearing.” Well obviously there will be no problem with that at all until EVERY SINGLE DROP of the glaciers has already melted. So there! Checkmate, scientists!

Sri Ram Sena flies Pakistan flag over an Indian government building

In America, far right-wing militia types talk about the government staging false flag operations while calling into Alex Jones’ ham radio show under a pseudonym like “One-Eyed Leroy.” In India, the far right-wing militia types actually do the false flag operations themselves.

Sri Ram Sena is this horrible group of Hindu Nationalists in India. In a lot of ways they’re not too different from Christian Nationalists. I first wrote about them about a y ear ago when they were making the news for attacking women at pubs and threatening to attack unmarried couples celebrating Valentine’s Day in public. They also threatened to kidnap and forcibly marry them as punishment. And they raided their political opponents headquarters.

Along with physically attacking love wherever they see it, they also have a bug up their ass about Muslims. Especially those Muslims in Pakistan. See, there’s a bit of ugly history between the two countries, and some still haven’t let go of the old hostilities. So yada yada yada, now they both have nuclear weapons aimed at each other.

But even mutually assured destruction isn’t bad enough for some people, and that’s where the Sri Ram Sena enters the picture. They were alarmed at how many people don’t seem to care too much about hating Pakistanis anymore, so they hatched this plan to raise the flag of Pakistan over government buildings in India. Police say their goal was to create “communal disharmony” in the area because there is a large Muslim population there.

So people saw the flag, probably assumed it was either a mean-spirited prank or even a sign of an actual invasion of some sort, and threw rocks at their local Muslim prayer hall.

You would think that a really devoted Hindu Nationalist would buy into their own propaganda enough to not think that this kind of shit were necessary. If there really were another India-Pakistan war looming and only Hindu Nationalism could save India, why would anyone need to dishonestly provoke hatred in that way? The whole basis of their worldview is that these fights are ones people really care about and the conflict they dream about really is inevitable.

But that’s the problem with faith. It’s just not good enough of a reason to believe something, and even the most die-hard proponents of it recognize that. Deep down, they have the same doubts as the skeptics. They know the gods / God isn’t really going to smite their enemies, so they’re going to have to do it themselves. And that’s what’s really scary.

In which I’m forced to mention Charlie Sheen

March 7, 2011

Last week I did an interview with Alexander Zaitchik about his new article in Rolling Stone, which was about conspiracy talk radio host Alex Jones. As brief of an interview it was, I was kind of proud that we didn’t talk about Charlie Sheen at all. See, when Sheen started ranting all his crazytalk, that was when he was calling in to the Alex Jones happy funtime radio show. They’re old friends, connected through their belief in the idea that 9/11 was an “inside job.” So now, funnily enough, Jones has sort of been in the spotlight because of the instability of someone else and not himself.

But now really my hand has been forced and I’m going to have to actually mention Charlie Sheen because he went and pissed off a “warlock.” And the warlock is going to cast spells on him. And his name is Christian Day. And he looks like this:

I learned about Christian Day from the Daily Telegraph. He is a “real-life warlock” who was totally offended by Sheen’s claim to be a “Vatican assassin warlock,” which, as it turns out, is not true at all.

In other news, film scholars criticized Sheen’s sloppy analysis of Apocalypse Now, engineers at Boeing deny manufacturing Charlie Sheen and claim that he is in fact a sort of human being and not an F-18, and Venus and Athena took great offense to Sheen’s claims that his porn star girlfriends were “goddesses.” They are not.

Christian Day and his crappy knock-off Misfits skull patch were so offended by Sheen’s use of the word “warlock” that he has decided to take vengeance. Here is what he said to TMZ, according to the Daily Telegraph:

“I am going to magically bind Mr. Sheen, not to harm him, but to simply prevent him from using this word in such a negative manner in the future.”
Day continues, “If Mr. Sheen is open to it, our coven would be willing to perform a cleansing on both him, his home, and his career.”

Fucking warlocks. Always so haughty.

There, now if this wasn’t just a big publicity stunt, warlocks should “bind” me from “using this word in such a negative manner in the future.”

Romanian fortune tellers are outraged

February 9, 2011

Queen Witch Bratara Buzea, mooch

The Romanian government has just passed a law which will require the fortune tellers in that country to pay a fine if their predictions don’t come true.

Naturally, the “witches” are outraged. From KOMO News:

“They can’t condemn witches, they should condemn the cards,” Queen Witch Bratara Buzea told The Associated Press by telephone.

And I guess when automobile manufacturers release cars with defective brakes, we should blame the plastic and steel instead of the company profiting off them. And when agribusinesses sell dangerous food, the FDA should go after the microbes and not the people responsible for the negligence. After all, we “can’t” condemn anyone responsible for their own fraud, right?

This is just a case of special pleading. Every single other manner of commerce is regulated within some bounds of reason in order to make sure people aren’t making a living out of scamming people out of money. It’s expected that when you run a business, you’re doing it in order to either sell products without lying about them or offer legitimate services which actually work.

But for some reason that kind of principle of honesty is not supposed to apply when it comes to religion and other forms of superstition. They get a total pass. The “witches” in question here were even outraged when, earlier this year, they were asked to *gasp* pay taxes! Oh, the humanity.

In fact, when that law was passed, they were so angry that they dumped a poisonous plant called mandrake into the Danube River. As far as I can tell, mandrake has no relation to the famous British Colonel who almost saved the world from nuclear war.

Political critic Stelian Tanase thinks this measure is a way for the government to distract attention from the way in which the international economic crisis is affecting Romania. But then again, he also thinks the “witches” should “put a spell on” the Romanian Prime Minister and President in order to punish them.

Weird standards

December 9, 2010

All three of these stories are about private institutions doing things which are completely within their rights to do. Lots of us think they’re very weird and despicable for doing these things, but there’s nothing illegal about any of it. At the same time though it’s very revealing to examine how selectively certain standards can be applied and ignored.

Since I last wrote about WikiLeaks, a lot of shit has gone down. The site was targeted with denial of service attacks and as a result moved to Amazon’s server. So Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) put pressure on Amazon to boot WikiLeaks, which they did. That’s not too unusual considering the cast of characters. But where it gets weird is that Amazon UK is now selling the same cables WikiLeaks released to the press for the Kindle.

MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal also were pressured by the government to stop allowing donations to organizations affiliated with WikiLeaks via the claim that what WL is doing is illegal (even though it’s not- although what the people leaking to them definitely is) and therefore violates those companies’ terms of service.  Instead of checking with their lawyers, those companies capitulated to the government and stopped allowing donations to WL. But it gets weird again here because MasterCard and Visa seem to have no problem with this.

And the Salvation Army is now refusing to distribute Harry Potter and Twilight toys because they’re “incompatible with the charity’s Christian beliefs.” They would not even agree to pass on these toys to other agencies which could then distribute them without sullying the good name of the Starvation Salvation Army. The story broke when a volunteer in Calgary found a bunch of Twilight and Harry Potter toys quarantined in a warehouse. But then it gets weird:

“I was told to withhold a six-inch Harry Potter figure, but when I picked up a plastic M-16, I was told, ‘That’s for the 10-year-olds,'” he said.

It’s not even so much that the Salvation Army would allow one type of toy and not the other. The Bible, taken as a whole, is pretty ambiguous on both warfare and witchcraft. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and makes evil spirits possess pigs and then kills them, but Exodus 22:18 tell us not to suffer a witch to live. Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek and to give people our coats, but then says he’s here to divide and comes not for peace, but with a sword.

What I’m trying to get at is that the SA could just as easily distribute Harry Potter toys and ban the plastic M-16s and be just as compatible with Christianity. So it’s not just Christianity that they’re concerned about, it’s a certain variation of it. For some reason they get the benefit of lumping themselves in with the large number of Christians when many of them would be appalled at their selectiveness.


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