Category Archives: Social

Mob behavior and the feeling of being right

People don’t want to understand, people want to feel they are right.

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Disagreeing online has become a dangerous thing to do, the internalization of beliefs and the fanatization of those who hold said beliefs puts an end to rationality and opens the door for visceral discussions.

“Attacking my beliefs is attacking me, as I am what I think”

When a person disagrees with the notion a group holds dear, the usual reaction includes personal disqualifications, personal attacks, public mocking and exposure of personal information to shame that who dared to have a different opinion.

This happens because when a person feels the support of a group in which he or she is part of the majority, what the majority believes is taken as the truth.
If you were to go to an online group or forum dedicated to a certain topic, whether it is politics, conspiracy ideas, social movements, even fan clubs, and said “I’m not X”, sooner or later the conversation would devolve into an insult fest, in the case that the post is not deleted from the site and the user banned before the mob notices the one that is different.

I’d like to attach this behavior to those who I disagree with, but I’ve seen this kind of irrational and tribalistic behavior occurring within certain circles I’m part of, ending up forming eco-chambers where differing opinions and cognitive growth go to die.

“Understanding why the other person thinks he is right is more important than being right oneself”

Maslow constructed his model based on how people behave and what they need to do in order to achieve self-realization, forming part of a group and feeling one belongs is one of the most important factors in the process of achieving self-realization.
I’m mentioning this part because peer-pressure and the desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves is usually the reason why we, as humans, tend to behave in certain waves that include attacking those who are different, those who disagree, those who don’t have opinions and beliefs like ours.

Are we really far from our cousins the chimps or are we still following our instincts in order to survive while we keep self deluding ourselves into thinking we are “the rational ones”?

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How I became an Atheist in Pakistan

Pakistani Muslim students attend a religious madrassa, or school, to learn the Quran, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Religious schools in Pakistan, most of them in mosques, are the only source of education for thousands of children. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore at dusk.

 

This story is being posted on behalf of a member of the AAPN community. Our friend Adeel.

I am no different from anyone around me. Being born in a Muslim family I was no different from every other Muslim baby. When I was born my parents felt that I was blessing of Allah forgetting that in fact it was completely their effort. The first words I ever heard were “Azzan”, which is said in my right ear and ” Aqamat” which was said in my left. Being the first boy of the family I got a lot of love and attention from my family. This included religious indoctrination. While growing up the first word I learned was “Allah”. Muslim parents love to hear “Allah” as the first word from their baby’s mouth. When I learned to speak, the first class I had was about the Koran. I was like every other kid, waking at 5:30 AM in the morning to go to the nearby “Madrassa” (Islamic School) before going to primary school. Even primary school stressed religious instruction.

The girls, 5 to 5 years old, were supposed to wear “hijab” as part of their training. I was taught to pray when I was 7. We learned the prayers through nursery rhymes. We also attended a mandatory class called Islamic Studies. This was where we were brained-washed with Islamic stories and so-called Islamic values. We were not to question our religion nor its concept of a God. As I was to find out, there is no space for question in religion. Like every other Muslim child I was indoctrinated with their concept of heaven, about how beautiful it is and about the many beautiful women I would get if I lived my life acting on the rules of Islam. Like every other kid I was told that only Muslims are going to heaven because God loves only Muslims and he created heaven only for Muslims. Like everyone else I was told to hate other religions. I was to feel proud for being a Muslim. I was told how important it is for girls to wear hijab so that no man can see them. I was conditioned so well to accept this that I started to force the women and girls in my family to wear the hijab. As a teenager I joined Islamic groups who travel from city to city to invite people to Islam. I grew the beard and I was happy that I was born a Muslim; imagining myself going to heaven and getting 72 virgins gave me great motivation to become even more devoted to my religion.

Boys read the Koran in a madrasa, or religious school, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Kabul…Boys read the Koran in a madrasa, or religious school, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Kabul July 15, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani (AFGHANISTAN – Tags: RELIGION)

This was all to change. It shocked me when I started to study other religions and I realized that every religion has the concept of heaven and hell, and every religion promises its followers to let them enter into heaven. I read that every religion tells its followers to hate other religions and that followers of every other religion are going to hell. This opened my eyes and really made me question my own beloved Islam. I began to see how all the Islamic sects spread hate against the other sects. The more I read the more the more I started to hate my own religion, to hate any religion. I tired of it all, though I didn’t lose my faith in God.

Then when I was 20 my grandfather had an attack of paralysis. I visited him in the hospital. That visit to the hospital was a game changer. I was walking through the childrens ward, thinking of my grandfather, when I heard some children crying in pain. This event really made me question my beliefs about God. I wondered how God could really exist if he could not help these children. After that visit I saw several accidents on the road. As I saw that they were all man-made accidents, it dawned on me that really God, too, is just a creation of man’s own mind. Later I began to see that this concept of a God is also something that is used to help rulers control the poor, for a few to exert power over the rest of mankind. I saw that religion is used to divide people and make them fight each other for personal gain and advantage.
So this is how I turned from being Suni Muslim to an atheist. I will never look back.

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Whooping In Washington

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In Washington state, here in the United States, pertussis (whooping cough) caused nearly 200 campers to be sent home early after whooping cough prompted the YMCA of Greater Seattle to close the overnight camp on the Kitsap Peninsula. This is yet another dangerous example of the rejection of vaccine uptake. The rise of misinformation and alternative medicine has been increasing and the rejection of science-based modern medicine has been gaining momentum. As we know, vaccines work by stimulating our immune system to produce antibodies (substances produced by the body to fight disease) without actually infecting us with the disease. They trigger the immune system to produce its own antibodies, as though the body has been infected with a disease. There have been many factors leading to this decline: a lot of this has to do with celebrities endorsing fallacious claims; Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, for example. All this was due to a former British Gastroenterologist named Andrew Wakfield and his fraudulent study published in the Lancet articles.

The best way to prevent pertussis (whooping cough) is to get vaccinated. There are vaccines for babies, children, preteens, teens, and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster vaccine for preteens, teens, and adults is called Tdap. Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease. Initial symptoms are usually similar to those of the common cold with a runny nose, fever, and mild cough, followed by weeks of severe coughing fits. After a fit of coughing, a high-pitched whoop sound or gasp may occur as the person breathes in, and may last for 10 or more weeks, hence the phrase “100-day cough”. A person may cough so hard that they vomit, break ribs, or become very tired from the effort. Children less than one year old may have little or no cough and instead have periods where they do not breathe. Infection in newborns is particularly severe.

Pertussis is fatal in an estimated 1.6% of hospitalized US infants under one year of age. First-year infants are also more likely to develop complications, such as: pneumonia (20%), encephalopathy (0.3%), seizures (1%), failure to thrive, and death (1%) perhaps due to the ability of the bacterium to suppress the immune system. Pertussis can cause severe paroxysm-induced cerebral hypoxia, and 50% of infants admitted to hospital suffer apneas. Reported fatalities from pertussis in infants increased substantially from 1990 to 2010. There is no excuse for these kind of vaccine preventable diseases.

Sources:

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/state/washington/article93698202.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pertussis

https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/

How Racism and Sexism Still Persists in the Atheist Community

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How Racism and Sexism Still Persists in the Atheist Community

In my time being active in the atheist community, I have noticed that there has been a sort of subset of radical thinking. Racism and sexism have really been on the rise in the atheist community, and it’s showing up often in social media.

Talking as an administrator on the general AAPN Facebook page (commonly referred to as “the main page”) where my gender was unknown to the person, has shown me how people will talk differently when they make gender assumptions. When we shared a Facebook post about this topic, we were swarmed with comments and as I was pitching my 2 cents with the other admins, I had noticed a strange thing happen. As I said, when an administrator on the main page speaks, it just shows as AAPN speaking, well when I was criticizing some people for having a sexist attitude, it seemed that they assumed that I was a woman speaking to them, which I thought was an odd assumption since there are no details on who exactly was speaking.

What was even more interesting was how some of those folks started referring to me as “sweetie” or “babe”, at that point after they started calling me pet names, I finally confronted them about it and that they were talking to a male the entire time, suddenly the pet names stopped.

We have also had messages to the main page from self professed atheists wanting to know our opinions on race and intelligence, and which race we thought as being superior. This is an absolutely terrible train of thought to be in as to somehow view yourself as superior to your fellow man. Every culture, has something great to offer the world when religious beliefs are cast aside.

We atheists need to strive to be the example in the world, and sadly we are failing at that. Lately my mantra has been “atheism =/= rationalism, it’s just a step in the right direction”; and sadly that’s been holding true. I have seen first hand how atheists that are woman and/or minorities are treated very disrespectfully and the only thing they did was stick up for themselves. Sexism and racism is a real thing that is happening in our community and it’s time we step up to it and not tolerate it anymore.

Atheists Helping the Homeless in NYC

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AAPN is helping AHH with helping the homeless in cooperation with  www.logikalthreads.com

“Like” AHH and tag five friends in the post for a chance to win one of these two giveaway prizes, volunteers for the event will receive an additional entry! Send your submissions to the comment section on this website article with proof of “likes and tags.” Prizes are 1 of 2 shirts as shown below.
giveawayts 

Atheists Helping the Homeless is a secular charity group that was
started in Austin, Texas in 2009 for three basic reasons. 1 To help
some folks in need. 2 To show by example that Atheists DO care and DO have morals and DO help. 3 To have fun. We’ve helped by doing monthly giveaways of free items like toiletries, clothing, and food. Since 2009, we’ve helped literally thousands of people in Texas and beyond, and lately we’ve been growing rather quickly.

This Sunday, March 27, AHH will do giveaways in FIVE different cities, including New York City. That chapter is brand new, and this will be their first giveaway. They need volunteers and donations of items to give out, now. If you live in that area and would like to help, please visit their chapter page and send them a message:

https://www.facebook.com/AtheistsHelpingtheHomelessNewYorkCity
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If you do a search on Facebook for “Atheists Helping the Homeless,”
you’ll find our chapter pages, which now number more than 16. With the rapid growth we’ve experienced lately, chances are, there is a chapter near you. If you’ve ever wanted to help the homeless, but only through a purely secular group, you’ll love AHH.

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One atheist’s view on eating meat

One atheist’s view on eating meat

 

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When it comes to a topic like eating meat, you have to be able to separate what is viewed as food and what is not. We evolved as being omnivores, meaning we hunted for our food when the opportunity arose. We share many aspects with predators, forward facing eyes for added depth perception, an intestinal tract with enzymes specifically designed to consume meat, the ability to think strategically (higher intelligence), canines and incisors for tearing meat, the list goes on.    Continue reading One atheist’s view on eating meat

Religion’s abuse of the mentally ill

abuse of the mentally ill

 

Religion’s abuse of the mentally ill

There has always been a stigma attached to mental illness and conditions such as epilepsy, which cause alarming seizures in otherwise healthy individuals. When society did not understand the cause of conditions that science has learned to identify and treat, people turned to religion to cope, and the results were at best scarring for the individual and at worst, deadly.

A young German woman that had suffered seizures all of her life was killed after ten months of exorcisms because her family believed that she was possessed by demons. Denied food and water, subjected to violent rituals, the 23 year old died horribly and needlessly at the hands of people blinded by their own ignorance.   Continue reading Religion’s abuse of the mentally ill

The Closet Atheist

Closet Atheist

The Closet Atheist

Going to work and doing the normal routine comes simple for some people. They socialize, enjoy time with friends and try to live out their normal routine. For other people, life is a little more complex, and for some, live in the shadow of fear.
In the religious world people are free to flaunt their idealism, regardless of how eccentric or unfounded their beliefs are. There is a widely held view of acceptance to those who delve into the realm of beliefs in a higher power. At first glance, it is very soothing to think there is something beyond yourself and that there is more to life then can be explained.   Continue reading The Closet Atheist

“Burger Fear Mongering.”

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A report quickly went viral which claims to explain what happens to our bodies when we eat a McDonald’s Big Mac:

As a biology major and skeptic I was immediately intrigued by this, so I began reading through the post — and holy hell… I quickly found myself reading an article that was nothing more than a mashup of fear-mongering claims from misinformation. A lot of the scientific claims the authors made were just blatantly wrong; whether it was about biological processes or chemistry or something else. It’s especially disconcerting because these people are either completely unaware of what they’re talking about and are spreading grossly misleading information through their ignorance, or they are straight up just lying and purposefully creating fear amongst the public against McDonalds. Now don’t get me wrong, they do get a lot of stuff right but I really want to take the time to deconstruct and refute all the bullshit assertions the authors try to maintain in this article.   Continue reading “Burger Fear Mongering.”

The case against creationists and religious fundamentalism

case against creationists
Religious fundamentalists really do have a habit of wearing down on those of us in the scientific community. They tend to say something nonsensical and disingenuous, then when people point it out they either don’t respond or when they do, it’s often always the same rhetoric some other fool quoted, just in a different religious context. The typical quote: “I have proof of God and (insert religious passage) and you need to believe because of some outlandish or obscure claim, then insert a logical fallacy or Pascal’s wager, or even better talk about some anecdotal nonsense. Then they claim that because they ‘feel’ something which they interpret as the presence of a god is evidence enough and that we are damned to some ill fate for not believing.” -end typical quote. We’ve all seen it, it’s the same argument every time, just a different religion or slightly adjusted for the circumstances. And they all claim they have all the answers and the rest are wrong.   Continue reading The case against creationists and religious fundamentalism