Rare Common Sense: October 2003 Archives

October 30, 2003

Warm black pussies.

United States: The Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has dropped its ban on the adoption of black cats during October. The national American SPCA had stopped advising such a ban two years ago after they uncovered no evidence to support suggestions that black cats were under any additional danger in the run-up to Hallowe'en.

I've been checking with people in (the SPCA's) adoption and animal science departments and no, there hasn't been any instance where a witch ... did anything with these black cats, [Deborah] Sindell said.

There's really no evidence.

The executive director of Washington County Humane Society said that he had not seen a single case of adoption leading to torture during his 30 years' experience, and noted that an ill-doer would have a much better supply of animals to be cruel to: Cats are readily available, free on the street. Those are the ones I'm more concerned about.

An anthropology professor questioned the very basis of the urban legend:

Legend says that a cat caught and killed at Halloween was especially powerful for a voodooist, Stevens said, but witches were said to share their powers with cats.

People who were fearful that the black cat was carrying evil - they might be the ones that mistreat the cat, not the witches themselves, Stevens said.

Ban on black cat adoptions at Halloween droppedCapital News Service, 30th October 2003.

October 16, 2003

Imaginary friend no help

United States: Extensive research into the power of prayer has concluded that it makes no difference whatsoever.

Doctors in the United States will today disclose that heart patients who were prayed for by groups of strangers recovered from surgery at the same rate as those who were not.
The three-year study, led by cardiologists from Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina, involved 750 patients in nine hospitals and 12 prayer groups around the world, from Christians in Manchester to Buddhists in Nepal...
Names selected at random by a computer were sent to the 12 prayer groups, who began praying immediately for their recovery. Neither the hospital staff nor the patients and their relatives knew who was being prayed for.

The Bishop of Durham is unamused:

He said both the Old and New Testaments said very clearly that you must not put God to the test.

Funnily enough, he doesn't appear to have commented on earlier research done by the same people, which suggested that third-party prayer was helpful. Power of prayer found wanting in hospital trial - Daily Telegraph, 15th October 2003.

October 7, 2003

God created evolution.

DMD Publishing Co. is the home of Glenn R. Morton, a Christian petroleum geologist who nearly lost his faith completely after years of involvement with young-earth creationism, flood geology and other religiously-inspired pseudoscence.

In order to get closer to the data and know it better, with the hope of finding a solution, I changed subdivisions of my work in 1980. I left seismic processing and went into seismic interpretation where I would have to deal with more geologic data. My horror at what I was seeing only increased. There was a major problem; the data I was seeing at work, was not agreeing with what I had been taught as a Christian. Doubts about what I was writing and teaching began to grow. Unfortunately, my fellow young earth creationists were not willing to listen to the problems. No one could give me a model which allowed me to unite into one cloth what I believed on Sunday and what I was forced to believe by the data Monday through Friday. I was living the life of a double-minded man--believing two things.
By 1986, the growing doubts about the ability of the widely accepted creationist viewpoints to explain the geologic data led to a nearly 10 year withdrawal from publication. My last young-earth paper was entitled Geologic Challenges to a Young-earth, which I presented as the first paper in the First International Conference on Creationism. It was not well received. Young-earth creationists don't like being told they are wrong. The reaction to the pictures, seismic data, the logic disgusted me. They were more interested in what I sounded like than in the data!

Rather than dealing with the problems thrown up by the data, Creationists resorted to name calling; 'like your father, Satan' (Carl R. Froede--I am proud to have this one because Jesus was once said to have been of satan also.). There's lots of interesting stuff to read here, though some of his attempts to reconcile the data with Genesis smacks of special pleading. (via Ken MacLeod).

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Rare Common Sense category from October 2003.

Rare Common Sense: September 2003 is the previous archive.

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