Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[Photo of Jason Kenney]

Alberta dominates the Update this week… but not a single item is positive.

  • [] Want to feel unique? Believe in the reptile people

    This bit of research has been mentioned before, but it’s worth mentioning again – and this article is remarkably plain-spoken about the research, straight from the researcher himself. It’s one of two pieces featured this week about what makes conspiracy theorists tick. This piece describes evidence that conspiracy theorists will believe literally anything (at one point it mentions that those who believe that Osama bin Laden was dead before the Navy Seals shot him are also more likely to consider it plausible that bin Laden is still alive), so long as it’s something most people don’t believe… because it makes them feel special to think that they’re the only ones who can “see the truth”; they’re not one of the sheeple.

  • [] A good day for Parliament, a bad day for the church

    Very nicely written rebuttal to the people making the nonsense claim that Parliament is “meddling in religious affairs” when it asked the Pope to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools, and pay the compensation it’s been asked for.

  • [] I watched an entire Flat Earth Convention for my research – here’s what I learnt

    This is the second piece in this week’s update speculating on the nature of conspiracy theorists. This piece takes a different approach, considering the startling rise of conspiracy theories on a shift in the balance of power of information; where once there were gatekeepers that made it hard for one to get a platform to trumpet one’s ideas from, now any idiot can reach millions with almost no effort. And, the theory goes, many idiots do.

  • [] Vancouver chiropractor resigns from college board over anti-vaccine video

    The story of chiropractor Avtar Jassal posting anti-vax nonsense online was covered in last week’s Update. But because that was so hastily put together after the wind storm, I missed the most fascinating part of the story. Avtar Jassal wasn’t just some big-name chiropractor; he was the vice-chair of the College of Chiropractors of B.C.. And now the College is falling all over themselves to put on their srsface and “investigate the matter”, likely because of the media fallout from the case of the naturopath who gave diluted rabies to a kid she thought was a werewolf.

  • [] Albertans’ opinions differ most sharply along religious, educational lines

    This is really cool, and I encourage readers to go to the CBC page and play with the data themselves. The trends shouldn’t really be surprising to any long-term readers of CA, but the strengths of the trends can surprise. As the article mentions, the things that seem to cause the most polarization among Albertans are level of education, and religiosity. In brief: the less educated and more you are, the bigger a bigot you are, the more you buy into the conspiracy theory that Alberta is always getting the shaft from Ottawa, the more you want to give money to the rich and not the poor, and the more you buy into bullshit like “family values” and “down-to-earth thinking of ordinary people”.

  • [] United Conservative Party Votes To Tell Parents If Child Joins Gay-Straight Alliance

    You may recall Jason Kenney raising the jaw-droppingly stupid idea that if kids join a gay-straight alliance, the school should inform their parents. When the predictable outrage at such an incredibly dumb and dangerous idea burned him, he quickly back-pedalled and tried to walk it back. (The NDP took advantage of his stupidity, and quickly pushed a bill to protect the privacy and safety of kids joining GSAs. Kenney voted against it, but it was a meaningless gesture since the bill was guaranteed to pass. He got to look good to his base, without actually causing kids to be victimized.) That should have been the end of it… but something new has happened – something very unnerving. The far right, social conservative faction of the party’s membership flexed their muscles, and to everyone’s horror… they actually had muscle. The UCP’s pandering to the far right may be coming back to bite them in the ass. But what’s worse is that it may end up biting all of Alberta in the ass.

  • [] Doug Ford and Jason Kenney can’t slay the homophobic monsters they helped create

    Nobody who’s been following politics has failed to notice Conservatives like Doug Ford and Jason Kenney stoking homophobic sentiment as part of their campaign plans. But Arshy Mann’s piece makes the fascinating observation that… they may have lost control of the beast they roused. Mann mentions Kenney’s ridiculous “outing kids to their parents” thing and its fallout, as well as Ford being forced to turf Tanya Granic Allen (he doesn’t mention the Andrew Lawton case, though, either because it came after the article, or because of the very different dynamic in that situation).

  • [] Abolition threats knock on the door of Catholic education

    I’m a firm believer in leaving one’s bubble to see what the other side thinks about controversial issues. So on that note: here is a look inside the… I want to say, brain?… of a supporter of public Catholic school funding in Ontario. I’m not going to comment on it any further. I leave it to you to read, and judge for yourself.

  • [] How Free Speech Warriors Mainstreamed White Supremacists

    Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last couple of years, you’ve surely noticed that there’s a whole gosh-darn lot of white supremacist talk that just wasn’t there, say, even just five years ago. What happened? This piece takes a sober look.

  • [] The preferred jobs of serial killers and psychopaths

    This is such an interesting study, it might have made it into the Weekly Update just on its own merits. But – and this will probably come as a surprise to no-one – one of the top jobs of both serial killers and psychopaths is: religious official.

  • [] Bill 62: Quebec releases criteria for requesting, granting religious accommodation

    So the Québec government has finally delivered on the clarification of its clarification of the Bill 62 totally-not-about-religion-despite-literally-being-about-religion face-covering law that the Court demanded from them back in December. And what exactly did they deliver? Well… actually… they just kinda reiterated the standard accommodation rules already used by the Human Rights Commission… which has already condemned Bill 62. In other words, they took 4 1⁄2 months to do fuck-all, and put us right back where we started. I think it’s safe to say this one’s goin’ to the courts again, likely to be struck down for good this time.

  • [] Watch: Security footage shows hateful graffiti scrawled in heart of Plateau

    More neo-Nazi stuff shows up in Montréal, days after an actual Nazi flag was flown and one of the world’s top neo-Nazis was outed as a Montréaler. City officials still don’t seem to give a fuck.

  • [] Evan Balgord on Twitter

    Okay, yeah, I’m impressed now. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network was just formed last week and it had already outed one of the most notorious neo-Nazis in Canada. And now, this week, it can claim responsibility for killing Canada’s largest neo-Nazi podcast. This Hour Has 88 Minutes (which, honestly, I have to admit is a fucking awesome name for a Canadian neo-Nazi podcast) has been in the news a couple times – most recently (that I can think of) for endorsing Doug Ford. So like, 5 goddamn days after it’s launch, CAHN put out a release noting that they got a mention on This Hour Has 88 Minutes episode 90 (subtitled: “Can we make it to episode 100? Let’s find out.”; answer: “no”). And hours later the podcast and its hosts had basically scrubbed their entire presence from the Internet. Holy shit, CAHN. Seriously, you’re just showing off now. Is anyone still wondering whether this project is worthy of support?

  • [] Woman who was caught on video telling group of men they’re ‘not Canadian’ at an Alberta Denny’s loses her job

    Oh, I bet you thought the Nazi graffiti would earn Montréal the prize of Canada’s most hate-filled city this week. Nope, that “honour” goes to Lethbridge, Alberta. After Pocha yelled threats and bigoted abuse at the men – while they “retaliated” merely by laughing at her and pointing out that they are really Canadians – Denny’s response was to ask not just Pocha but also the victims of her racist tirade to leave. Good job on that one, Denny’s.

  • [] Harassment and Threats Against Abortion Providers Triple In One Year Under Trump.

    This is one of a pair of articles in Daily Kos this week – the other, published two days before, was “Death threats against abortion providers doubled in 2017” – about a disturbing trend in anti-abortion activism. It’s American data, but given the revitalization of the anti-abortion movement here in Canada (mentioned in a previous item this week), we can expect similar here.

  • [] Canada Summer jobs controversy fuels anti-abortion movement: activists

    Bit of a misleading title, but I won’t blame CTV for it. What it should say is: “Anti-abortion activists fabricate non-controversy by lying about new rules, then sucker gullible religious people and right-wingers and manipulate and exploit them for their own ends.” Granted, a little long for a headline, but more accurate. I don’t know what any of those anti-abortion activists think is going to come of this. First, the summer jobs grants are totally discretionary money, so the government is well within its rights to refuse to give it to groups that are anti-Charter-rights. Second, it’s not like whatever momentum they’ve managed to whip up will actually go anywhere. Even the politicians wanking off the social conservatives for votes know that the abortion debate is politically radioactive. The most the activists can hope to get out of it is maybe a future Conservative government deleting the Liberals’ new rules… but even then, even without the official rules against it, it’s not like even a Conservative government would be stupid enough to actually give federal money to anti-abortion groups.

  • [] The “Intellectual Dark Web,” explained: what Jordan Peterson has in common with the alt-right

    The biggest news in the “atheosphere” this week was an article in The New York Times by Bari Weiss about the… damn, I can’t even type this with a straight face… the “Intellectual Dark Web”. What is the “I.D.W.” you ask, moments before wishing you hadn’t? It is a group of… here come the giggles again… “intellectuals”, who are locked out (Weiss’s words, not mine) of mainstream media for having such renegade opinions as… *checks notes*… (I swear I am just quoting Weiss here): There are fundamental biological differences between men and women. Free speech is under siege. Identity politics is a toxic ideology that is tearing American society apart. For having these unorthodox opinions that you would totes never hear every 15 minutes on Fox News, the brave heroes of the I.D.W. are denied access to mainstream media recognition, such as having New York Times bestsellers (Jordan Peterson, Michael Shermer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris (five times!), Steven Pinker (just last fucking month!)). They’re all forced to wallow in the obscurity of their tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-a-month YouTube channels and million-subscriber podcasts. Pity them. O pity, they who suffer so. If you’re interested, you can read Weiss’s article yourself in all its ass-spelunking glory, complete with glamour shots of the repressed heroes framed in menacing darkness… oooOOOooo! But frankly it’s not really worth your time; you can pretty much guess what the article says, because it’s the same self-pitying, ego-wanking crap that all these “I.D.W.” bozos say all the time anyway. Instead, a more interesting question is: Why are these people no longer “mainstream” (assuming one actually believes that they’re not)? What exactly is it that made these people, who themselves admit they are just spouting ideas that were totally mainstream just 10 years ago, get to the point that they can now play the persecution complex card with a straight face today? This Vox article takes a good stab at that question.

  • [] Republican Insider Explains How Religion Destroyed the GOP

    This is American stuff, obviously, but this short excerpt is damning. It’s amazing to see an insider’s view of how the American conservative party fell into into the hands of theocrats. And one can’t help but wonder if the same might be happening in Canada.

  • [] Correactology® or How to Identify a Pseudoscience

    This is hilarious and awesome. Jarry doesn’t just debunk this pseudoscience (which I hadn’t heard of before now). He takes us step-by-step through the process of debunking it. He makes a point of giving readers the tools they need to spot pseudoscientific quackery all on their own… using a live example, all with subtle, wry humour (love the insistence on using the “®”). He’s practically daring the Correactology people to sue him.

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