Friday, November 1, 2013

It's Beginning to Look Like a Charcteristic Habit: Another Alternet Atheist Lies About What Their Citations Say

Valerie Tarico, a "psychologist and writer in Seattle" who writes often for Alternet rather remarkably misrepresented a survey by the Barnes Group in order to support her contention that,  "Atheist Marriages May Last Longer Than Christian Ones."

She says, about the survey they conducted:

In 2008, Barna again sampled Americans about divorce rates. The numbers fluctuated a bit, but once again atheists came out painfully good from a prays-together-stays-together perspective. Thirty percent reported ever being divorced, in contrast to 32 percent of born-again Christians. Slicing the U.S. by region, the Bible belt has the highest divorce rate, and this has been the case for over a decade, with the institution of marriage faring better in those dens of blue-state iniquity to the north and west.

While what the report from the Barnes Group SHE LINKED TO actually said about that is:

Thirty percent of atheists and agnostics had been married and subsequently divorced. However, the three-point difference from the national average was within the range of sampling error, suggesting that their likelihood of experiencing a dissolved marriage is the same as that of the population at-large. A representative from Barna also pointed out the atheists and agnostics have lower rates of marriage and a higher likelihood of cohabitation, a combination of behaviors that distort comparisons with other segments.

Even a casual reading of Tarico's citation shows that it doesn't support her alleged theme, it impeaches its own usefulness for supporting that theme.   Down at the very bottom of the post she sort of gives herself an escape clause by saying:

Do atheists do it better? That is unlikely. Divorce rate differences between theists and nontheists tend to depend on how you slice the demographic pie, and for both groups, the shape of marriage itself is changing. As culture evolves, we’re all in uncharted territory together.

But she makes apparent from the rest of the post that wasn't really her theme, she didn't really have one, she had a goal of presenting a hodge podge of anti-religious talking points for the online atheist audience all while committing the original sins of the social, would-be, sciences, conflation, reification and false equivalency to group and attribute characteristics to quite disparate groups and individuals. Perhaps atheists don't really think the great differences among denominations on questions such as divorce, abortion, birth control, etc don't matter but they do the the large majority of the population.   Really, I've come to think that popular atheism, far from being an intellectual movement it is an a-intellectual fad.   For someone who is billed as a "psychologist" to so completely misrepresent the report of the statistics in their own citation leads you to wonder if she was allowed to get by without studying statistics.


In even older news, I've been having a dispute with the Darwin Fan Club again.   Most of it was boilerplate Darwin Industry nonsense that one reading of The Descent of Man would prove was total nonsense.   We have a weird situation in which Darwin's own words are not allowed to mean what he meant them to mean, in which a phony, mythical Darwin was replaced for the real one whose claim to fame was in the very books the Darwin Industry refuses to represent his thinking.

The most interesting feature of the argument this time is the guy who was upset that I cited the passage in the fifth edition of On the Origin of Species in which Darwin said that "survival of the fittest" and Natural Selection were the same thing.   He said:

You try to suggest that the 5th and 6th addition magically alter the term ‘fitness’ to mean what YOU want it to mean rather than what Darwin in the previous 4 editions meant the term to mean. Again, this is academic fraud you are committing.

Since I gave the page number of the fifth edition where CHARLES DARWIN said,

This preservation of favourable variations, and the destruction of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest. 

we have a situation of a Darwin fan boy defending Darwin from his own words, of them impeaching the real man, in all of his rather sordid realness in favor of their phony, post-WWII plaster and very secular St. Darwin.  Darwin said what he said, there was no magical transformation, there was his own clarification of what he meant people to understand.

And in this, you can read " very secular" to mean " very atheist" because that's what it amounted to in the discussion.   I've come to the conlusion that the atheism fad is the result of the decline in reading ability and scholarship in the age of electronic mass entertainment.  What was supposed to be the "information age" would seem to be more of a mis-information age.   Valerie's piece, distorting the survey she cites was carried by Salon as well as were Jonny Scaramanga's evidence free assertions about the phony eugenics-free Darwin.   Welcome to the atheist dark age, as presented by the alleged news media.

Update:  Apparently Salon is blocking my comments claiming, "It seems you're attempting to post malformed content".  As I was noting what it said at the link Tarico put up, herself, that's rather rich.  

Does Salon do any review, whatsoever, of what appears on its website?  Who makes the determination that something is "misinformed"?


  1. I read the Alternet piece at Salon, and while it kept making references to "conservative Christians" and occasionally to "liberal Christians," who were all, apparently, "Methodists"(the Methodists I know would be shocked to know they were "liberal"), it made a lot of mushy assumptions and then threw out the baby and the bathwater with that final paragraph you quoted.

    I didn't even bother to look at the source material which, as you say, undermines everything she says about it.

    It reminds me of the Rand Paul plagiarism controversy, where he quoted liberally from Wikipedia. It's neither here nor there for Paul, but had he submitted that as an essay to me, I'd have given him a zero for plagiarism. It wasn't anything but. So with this piece; a quick glance at the source material, and everything she says turns to dust.

    And even without the quote from Darwin's "Origin," the complaint you quoted doesn't really make sense to me at all. The argument being made against you is so obviously one based on preferred opinion rather than on the source, in this case the text of the 5th edition. Any reader worth his/her salt knows words can be changed in subsequent editions, and so change the meaning of what was written before.

    All of which is to say I, too, am tired of the "information" age. Too damned much information, not nearly enough knowledge.

  2. I skipped the article thanks to the hed. And I don't trust anybody who can't spell 'edition' correctly.