Skeptimus Prime » Fox News One atheist's thoughts on politics, religion, and philsophy Wed, 22 Apr 2015 06:30:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 More than half of Fox News statements which Politifact rated were false. Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:44:16 +0000 Continue reading ]]> So Pundit Fact recently publishes figures, based upon Politifacts fact checking, which examine how often each of the major news networks got their facts right. Unsurprisingly Fox News continually scores the worst in this examination.

Statements made on FOX.

Their current highest score is in false claims, and they got a combined score from “pants on fire,” “false,” and “mostly false” of 61%, while “true,” and “mostly true” statements combine for a paltry 21%

MSNBC didn’t do that great either, but at least it’s combination of false statements still falls 20% lower than Fox at 41%, CNN actually scored much better than both, scoring 55% in mostly true or better statements, and getting only 22% in mostly false or worse.

These reports should make us examine the news we consume on any station carefully. Further it should be noted that politifact doesn’t fact check every claim so it’s possible that the figures are not accurate as a general reference to the stations. On the other hand why on earth would people chose to get news from a source that, when checked, is wrong more than 3/5 of the time?

]]> 0
Psychologist who writes for fox news blames feminism for Weiner’s sexting scandal. Tue, 24 Sep 2013 06:58:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> So this article was published a couple of months ago but I just ran into it a few days ago and it was just too ridiculous to pass up commenting on.

What Weiner’s sexting scandal tells us about young women today

Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychologist who is part of the fox news medical team, writes this article. He seems to think the feminist ideal of sexual liberation is what’s really to blame for this scandal by teaching women to enjoy sex outside of marriage. Dr. Ablow seems to think this is a “man’s job.”

The sexual liberation of women has liberated them to be just like men—who, whether anyone likes it or not, often enjoy sex outside of emotionally-connected, longstanding relationships.

Unfortunately for Ablow he gets a number of facts wrong in this article. First he seems to think that feminists seem to have no issues with Weiner’s actions. To be clear we tend to have different problems with it than Ablow has, I don’t think there is anything inherently immoral with premarital sex. However, Weiner was clearly in the wrong, he was lying to his wife. Further suggesting that the women Weiner sent these photo’s too are somehow responsible for his behavior is more than a little sexist, and suggesting that men never had affairs before feminism is more than a little bizarre. Clearly such affairs have been common throughout history even in cultures without all of those “evil” feminists.

However, he clearly thinks his arguments have scientific merit and the feminists are just being political when they suggest that there is no psychological difference between men and women; so let’s look at his actual argument:

From my perch as a psychiatrist talking to thousands of people a year, I can tell you that the average young woman no longer balks at sexting, watching pornography or being the aggressor sexually in a relationship.

But I will tell you that, from what I hear in my office, the girls actually feel a whole lot worse about it, in their hearts, than the boys.  Because, you see, girls and boys, are not the same.

In this argument we actually get a picture of the scientific methodology he employed to come to this conclusion. My conclusion is that his methodology is dangerously sloppy. You will noticed he, at no point, mentions any studies that demonstrate that the average women feels psychologically traumatized by unmarried consensual sex. I can only assume that he quotes no studies because he is unaware of any.

So what is the evidence he brings to the table? His brings up his work with his patients and says that women feel worse in their hearts than men do. Now some people wanting to defend him might at this point say that this guy has a degree in his field and has practiced psychology for years, and don’t I believe in trusting scientists? Who am I to question his authority in this field, since I clearly have no degree in psychology. Well, it’s true I have no degree, but I actually trust the scientific method much more than I trust individual scientists. This is important because Ablow clearly fails to follow scientific principals in his analysis.

You see Ablow uses a flawed sample set. In this case he is making generalizations about a whole population based upon a small self selected sample set. In general if you want your figures to be representative of the whole population then a self selected set is a bad way to do it. This problem is further complicated by the way in which the group self selects itself. In this case all of his patients come to him with some kind of psychological issues, so to assume that facts about the sexual neuroses of his patients can be used to generalize about about all women is very sloppy science indeed.

Further, his statements are vague and metaphorical (they feel worse in their hearts) which makes it impossible to tell if his opinions about the sexual neurosis of even the small sample set he worked from are reliable. It is entirely possible that his biases about sexual behaviors have colored his perception of his clients feelings on the matter.

The sad thing is that if he actually went looking for it there is a lot of studies out there on gender psychology, like this one:

Men and Women May Not Be So Different After All

So a further problem for Ablow is that there are good studies that actually run contrary to Ablow’s claim.

…Statistically, men and women definitely fall into distinct groups, or taxons, based on anthropometric measurements such as height, shoulder breadth, arm circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio. And gender can be a reliable predictor for interest in very stereotypic activities, such as scrapbooking and cosmetics (women) and boxing and watching pornography (men). But for the vast majority of psychological traits, including the fear of success, mate selection criteria, and empathy, men and women are definitely from the same planet.

I suggest reading the whole study, as it demonstrates a much more careful and thoughtful methodology than Ablow does, which is why I find it ironic that he ends with this:

Some gender roles developed because of psychological facts, not in spite of them.  And when feminists urged and urge that we throw out all of them, they do a disservice to females and to the truth.

Ablow’s willingness to use his flawed data, in place of the good data which contradicts his desired conclusion, makes it painfully obvious that his reasoning is motivated by his political and religious ideals, not a desire for truth. It does not qualify as good science. Further, he subtly engages in victim blaming and sexism throughout his article, which makes it difficult to believe he is overly concerned about women’s rights.

]]> 0
A typical rant on Fox News about plan B. Thu, 02 May 2013 19:47:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Dr. Manny Alvarez goes on a rant about how the government is intruding into medicine by allowing 15 year old women to purchase plan B pills with no prescription:

He says that at 15 these women are still children, which, while true by cultural standards is, totally untrue by biological standards, which is they key and warns that 15 year olds will be unable to understand the medical warnings on the packaging. I guess he never stopped to ask if someone unable to understand medical warnings has any business being a parent, or to consider that pregnancy carries more health risks than plan B.

At one point he even suggests that next the government is going to suggest selling plan B to infants which makes me question his medical qualifications. He does know that infants can’t get pregnant right?

It always strikes me as funny that the opposing side always manages to miss the most important point in these debates. The only teenagers who are buying plan B are ones who have had sex and are worried they might get pregnant from said sex. Teenagers have been having sex since always, and the average age of first sexual experience in the U.S. is about 16 years old. Abstinence only programs have never increased that age by more than 3-6 months. Making plan B easier to get will lower both abortions and teen pregnancy rates so it should be an easy sell to social conservatives who say they want those numbers to go down.

Unfortunately for us, social conservatives take an “our way or the highway” approach to moral issues. In their mind the there is only one valid way for these numbers to go down and that is by only having sex in a manner they find acceptable, which usually means within a marriage.  Any other way of making those numbers go down is cheating the system, and they would rather have pregnant 15 year olds than let us cheat the system.

]]> 0
Fox news has “balanced” discussion of religious demographics study Mon, 31 Dec 2012 23:30:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

So here is something that happened on fox news recently.

They are speaking about this study.

So the first thing I notice is the total lack of balance here.  They are talking about a study showing that non-religious people are the third largest group in the world and then proceed invite two devoutly religious people to discuss it, a Baptist Pastor and an Orthodox Rabbi, and not an atheist or agnostic in sight.  Surprise, surprise both of them agree that this is horrible and proceed to dump an abusive pile of nonsense about the irreligious on their viewers. 

Apparently both buy into the typical prepositional nonsense that morality requires god.  Claiming at one point that “morality is always best when it is based on god’s word,”  I suppose it didn’t occur to them that a Baptist and a Jew have somewhat different perceptions of what qualifies as god’s word.

I also particularly loved how the baptist pastor bragged about his mufti-million dollar church and how it attracted people from “all” religious backgrounds, he then lists of several Christian denominations like “Catholics” and Episcopalians.” Oh yes, pastor Jeffers, you are clearly attracting a wide variety of people there.  Of course from there he un-ironically refers to Christianity as a “relationship with god.” 

At no point did they really engage with the data in the study, not the slightest analysis of it’s accuracy or the methods employed in the study.  Both of them just used their time as an opportunity to proselytize.  To be honest I’m not even certain this counts as journalism at this point.  Fox took a study and then, rather than actually report about it, used it as a jumping point to give air time to a couple of hacks who wanted to promote their books and new church buildings.

]]> 0
David Silverman toughing it out on Fox News again. Tue, 26 Jun 2012 10:14:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]>
What follows is a discussion about findings that 54% of Americans would vote for an atheist president.
You can view the video here:

Now, one of my biggest problems with fox news has to be the unprofessional behavior of the “journalists” on the station.  Laura Ingraham repeatedly shouts Silverman down, and at one point says “God bless you” to him in an obviously condescending manner.   She never once shouts down the other guest Pastor Robert Jeffress.  Apparently Ingraham subscribes to the theory that somehow being a loud jackass makes your argument more correct.

There was much else that was absurd, like claims by both Ingraham and Jeffress that things like T.V. shows like Modern Family which portray gay people as normal is evidence of an attack on Christianity, and that the contraception mandate is an attack as well, you can read my thoughts on the contraception mandate here.

Jeffress goes on to explain that he has no problem with voting for an atheist president but only if they were pro life, against gay marriage and pro religious freedom.  Given the opinions both Ingraham and Jeffress are pushing though it seems clear to me that their version of religious freedom is to let Christians do whatever they want and screw anyone with other beliefs, so Jeffress standards are such that he is unlikely to ever find such an atheist.

To me this is an example of the privileged mentality of many Christians.  How deluded does one have to be to believe that the media not portraying homosexuals as immoral monsters amounts to an attack on your religious beliefs?

]]> 0
Tides go in, Tides go out, and religion as a scam Mon, 10 Jan 2011 07:41:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]>
            American Atheists recently put up this billboard, as an advertisement for the southeast regional atheist meet.  As a result David Silverman, current head of American Atheists was asked to speak on the O’Reilly Factor.  I didn’t catch the interview on Fox News, but I did watch it later on YouTube.
I have found that this billboard and the subsequent interview have once again raised an issue within the atheist community that refuses to die. The issue being, are atheists all a bunch of pitiless jerks who say mean things to believers.  Like the Hydra of Greek mythology every few months this issue is revived within the crucible of some event in which atheists are judged by some group of people, or individual who managed to get his own show.  Some of these are obviously trumped up issues, for instance, the so called “War on Christmas” is almost entirely within the heads of religious conservatives.

I would like to point out a mistake I often see atheists making here.  I’ll call this the “let’s make nice” fallacy.  Often people seem to think that if we could just re-brand or be a bit better at P.R. that Christians would like us better.  Personally I am not convinced it would make much difference except, perhaps, with more liberal believers.  It almost certainly wouldn’t make much difference with most of the Christians who watch Fox News regularly.  I see it as the classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t problem.  The only way to be nice enough for most Christians to have no problem with atheism would be to simply shut up and never speak, and almost any open disagreement will certainly make some dislike us, accuse us of being shrill, etc.  Now don’t get me wrong I am not advocating being a jerk just for its own sake, but we need to admit that as long we are willing to speak up about things many theists will have a problem with it.  If we are willing to sacrifice anything for the goal of being well liked then we might as well give up ever telling people they are wrong.  I am not saying that it is not possible for us to go too far at times; only that we cannot use the outrage of people like O’Reilly as meter to decide if we have

Meanwhile, O’Reilly is still the same idiot he has always been.  Apparently he doesn’t know how the tides work and that proves there is a god.  Very deep, right?  It seems O’Reilly has never heard of the moon, yet he believes his knowledge is so exhaustive that if he doesn’t know how it works god must have done it.   Does this give me the right to call O’Reilly a pinhead or would that be too insulting?

]]> 2