For some extra context and excellent commentary, after looking at the graphs...
...I recommend you check out Mish's Pent Up Housing Demand, and the NYT's Sound of a Bubble Bursting.
Skeptics often share an interest in the unusual, bizarre, and the seemingly impossible with the denizens of newsgroups such as alt.paranormal, alt.astrology, alt.alien.visitors, and alt.forteana.misc. There are plenty of fans of The X-Files to be found among skeptics. Where skeptics differ from "believers" is with regard to what are acceptable standards of evidence and what constitutes reasonable methods of investigation. A commonly touted skeptical aphorism is "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," and testimonials, feelings and handwaving are not considered extraordinary enough to carry the weight.
Yet skeptics are not necessarily dogmatic disbelievers. Skeptics may be knee-jerk naysayers who reject anything supernatural or paranormal, open-minded doubters, or even those who shelter a few fringe beliefs of their own. The most outspoken critics of one paranormal theory are frequently advocates of other fringe theories, and such criticisms are often accepted and promoted by the skeptics. (In a similar vein, it has been pointed out that Christians agree with atheists about the nonexistence of all gods save one.)
Organized skepticism has largely centered around the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), http://www.csicop.org/, since its founding in 1976. But the growth of local, regional and national skeptical groups, and their interaction via the Internet has led to a diversification of approaches and emphases. The Los Angeles-based Skeptics Society, http://www.skeptic.com/, has published a thick magazine, Skeptic, since 1992 which emphasizes thorough and open investigation of claims, allows detailed responses from those who are criticized, is willing to examine claims within conventional science as well as on the fringes and encourages self-criticism of the skeptical movement. Likewise, the sci.skeptic newsgroup and the SKEPTIC mailing list (skeptic at listproc.hcf.jhu.edu) are places where
well-reasoned arguments by promoters of paranormal claims and skeptical detractors can find an attentive audience (amongst the obligatory flames and ridicule, of course--but flamers may find themselves skewered by their fellow skeptics if they aren't careful).
Within the broad class of skeptics are those who focus on more specific issues, like the Internet Infidels (http://freethought.tamu.edu/), whose Secular Web expresses skepticism about the existence of gods and value of religion. The National Center for Science Education (http://www.natcenscied.org/) engages in religiously neutral criticism of creationist pseudoscience. Trancenet (http://www.trancenet.org/) criticizes Transcendental Meditation. Each has related newsgroups (alt.atheism, talk.origins, alt.meditation.transcendental) and mailing lists, traffic from which tends to overflow into sci.skeptic, the catch-all newsgroup for skeptics.
The Internet has served as a means for skeptics worldwide to coordinate and expand their efforts; the skeptical organizations and publications have shown considerable growth in the last few years despite the fact that major media tends to give skeptical viewpoints short shrift.
Jim Lippard ([email address removed]), a skeptic, Web administrator and philosopher, is the Internet representative for Skeptic magazine.
Skeptics Society Web
Other Skeptical Resources
Matthew Murray wrote about some of these rules, observing that "I still remember how we were told that 'The Simpsons' was a very evil and Satanic TV show with the intent of causing people to leave Christianity (as if that’s a bad thing). As a teenager my mother had the TV tuner removed by a TV technician so that it could only receive from the AV inputs, meaning, could only watch VHS and DVDs." He specifically blamed Gothard's teachings for his problems:
Wives who work outside the home are to be compared to harlots — Bill Gothard
It is a total insult in Scripture to be called uncircumcised, and the only moral choice parents can make is to have their sons circumcised in order to follow in the footsteps of Jesus — Bill Gothard
“Unmerited favor” is a “faulty definition” of grace. Grace for sanctification is merited as we humble ourselves before God — Bill Gothard
Females who enjoy horseback riding have a problem with rebellion — Bill Gothard, from testimonies of people who use their real names who have heard him say this in person
Unbiblical submission taught — Abigail was WRONG to do what she did in saving Nabal and his servants — Bill Gothard
Tamar was partially at fault for being raped, because she wasn’t spiritually alert and didn’t cry out — Bill Gothard
Rock music is evil because it is evil — Bill Gothard
Cabbage Patch dolls are demonized — Bill Gothard
I am 22 years old and I was raised in Bill Gothard's homeschool program all the way through high school. I went to both the Basic and Advanced Seminars. My Mother was fully into both Bill Gothard's programs AND the Charismatic movement. What I found were all these other rules Irealized I could never live up to, yet, the man seemed to have a biblical basis for everything. In Februrary 2001 at age 17 I plunged into a dark suicidal depression all because I thought I had lost my "salvation" and somehow couldn't live up to the rules. Every single hour of every single day, up until October 2001 I thought about ways of suicide and hating myself for not being worthy enough and failing God. I felt like there was no reason to live because I had lost my salvation and could never live up to the rules.By contrast, Bill Gothard blames it all on rock music:
Gothard, in an interview Wednesday, said he “didn’t recall"ever meeting the Murray family, but he was sure one of the parents was probably trained in his program. Ultimately, Gothard blames rock music for Murray’s murderous rampage. “That is the most contributing factor,” said Gothard, who is based in a small town south of Chicago. “It’d be important to see the connection between his passion to rock music and how it ultimately brought this on.” Gothard said whenever he gets calls from parents having trouble with their kids, he asks about what they listen to. “In every case, (the kid) is listening to rock music,” he said.The Andrea Yates case didn't involve Bill Gothard--she was a follower of Michael Woroniecki, a traveling preacher who carried a cross onto college campuses. I met and argued with him at Arizona State University in October of 1986, where he was arrested (via citizen's arrest) for allegedly disrupting a campus event occurring on the mall. The charges were absurd--he wasn't creating a disturbance or disrupting any event--and some other skeptics and I attended his court hearing prepared to speak up for him, but the charges were dismissed when the ASU student who made the citizen's arrest failed to show up. Woroniecki's teachings are similar to Gothard in that he places a strong emphasis on following rules (and against following any church or leadership other than his own, since he doesn't seem to think anyone other than himself lives up to his standards, which apparently presents him with a bit of a problem in maintaining followers). He lacks the sophistication, charisma, and organizational skills of Gothard.
This morning, Huckabee first tried to deny his comments. "Chris, I didn't say that we should quarantine," he said. In fact, he said we "need[ed]" to isolate AIDS patients.That's not backing off from the position.
Pressed repeatedly by host Chris Wallace, however, Huckabee relented. "That is exactly what I said. I don't run from it, I don't recant from it. Would I say it a little differently today? Sure, in light of 15 years of additional knowledge and understanding, I would."
The 91st richest man in the U.S., a roofing company billionaire, has died after falling through his home garage's roof, local authorities said Friday.
Ken Hendricks, 66, was checking on construction on the roof over his garage at his home in the town of Rock Thursday night when he fell through, Rock County Sheriff's Department commander Troy Knudson said. He suffered massive head injuries, according to his company, ABC Supply Co.
[FBI agent] GRIFFIN: I traced it to a Georgetown sophomore named Andrew Kinross. But then I looked closer and saw the post didn't actually originate from his computer.And so far, I've not mentioned how the hacker mastermind hacks into the FBI agent's car (which features the fictional "NorthStar" instead "OnStar")--in the preview, the hacker apparently is able to control the steering of her car. I suspect drive-by-wire steering will come soon in the future of the automobile, but I don't believe it exists today. (Turns out the preview gives a misleading impression of what the script says is happening--the hacker doesn't actually control the steering, but remotely shuts off the car's electrical systems and power steering.)
MARSH: Our guy got into his computer and posted it from there.
GRIFFIN: That would be my guess.
MARSH: So let's go after the originating computer's IP.
Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you [a man about to die in a "suicide show" who the speaker has put his hand upon the head of] be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.And I continue to fail to understand why Christians cannot abide by Matthew 6:5-7.
At the same time, he decried those who would remove from public life “any acknowledgment of God,” and he said that “during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places.”Such scenes are already welcome in public places, so long as those public places are equally open to religious and secular displays by believer and nonbeliever alike. The only thing that is forbidden is exclusively allowing displays by a particular religion, which of course is what many Christians are actually demanding. For such an exclusive right favoring a particular religion or religion over nonreligion, displays must be on private property. It's a simple and fair concept, but the religious right repeatedly misrepresents it and falsely claims to be oppressed because they aren't given special privileges that no one else has, and whines and complains when something happens like a Hindu giving a prayer before Congress. And nobody has tried to prevent Romney, Giuliani, and the rest of the presidential candidates from their repeated references to God, despite the transparent phoniness of most of their claims to faith. It's clear that most of them are simply signalling to the religious right that they will continue to be granted special preferences, rather than truly displaying what they believe--their records of political expedience and lack of integrity speak more loudly than their words.
C[***] P[***] says a sales manager at Equally Yoked Christian Singles in Phoenix blocked her exit, made unauthorized charges on a cutup credit card and told her she would never find a man before the holidays without their help.Other commenters at the blog report similar, though less extreme, experiences:
P[***], who filed a police report over the incident, says the dating service virtually emptied her bank account to secure a $1,700 membership fee, refused to cancel her contract and demanded that she sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to get a refund.
I feel for this lady, I know from experience what Equally Yoked is like. They used to call me every month or so and literally harass me into coming in for the preliminary meeting. Luckily, I usually so busy I never had time to go in, I am glad I read this article and I will avoid this place like the plague.and
A friend joined Equally Yoked a couple of years ago and asked me to join with her so we could attend some of their events. I called them and made an appointment. My favorite cousin's wife died, however, the night of the appointment. I called and got Voice Mail to tell them I was too distraught to make the meeting. They called me back at least five times that night leaving increasingly nasty messages about how unprofessional I was cancelling my appointment. It's 18 months later and they finally stopped calling in October. I would never use Equally Yoked.The Republic notes that Equally Yoked has had eight BBB complaints in the last 36 months, four of which are contract issues, one a billing issue, one a service issue, and one a product issue, at least six of which were not resolved in a way acceptable to the consumer ("The consumer failed to acknowledge acceptance to the BBB" or "BBB determined the company made a reasonable offer to resolve the issues, but the consumer did not accept the offer."). For the BBB, that's good enough for a "satisfactory" record for a company that's an accredited member. That kind of complaint record would certainly make me avoid such a company, however.
...to celebrate Hanukkah is to celebrate not just the triumph of tribal Jewish backwardness but also the accidental birth of Judaism's bastard child in the shape of Christianity. You might think that masochism could do no more. Except that it always can. Without the precedents of Orthodox Judaism and Roman Christianity, on which it is based and from which it is borrowed, there would be no Islam, either. Every Jew who honors the Hanukkah holiday because it gives his child an excuse to mingle the dreidel with the Christmas tree and the sleigh (neither of these absurd symbols having the least thing to do with Palestine two millenniums past) is celebrating the making of a series of rods for his own back. And this is not just a disaster for the Jews. When the fanatics of Palestine won that victory, and when Judaism repudiated Athens for Jerusalem, the development of the whole of humanity was terribly retarded.A similar point is made, in a more tactful way, in Jennifer Michael Hecht's excellent book, Doubt: A History, which she also told on the New York Times' blog last December. She tells the story of how the events that led to the celebration of Hanukkah were a triumph of religious dogmatism and zealotry over secularism. She recommends lighting an extra candle in the memory of Miriam, the Hellenized Jewish woman who thought sacrifice was superstition and was "punished" for striking the temple altar with her sandal, yelling "Wolf, wolf, you have squandered the riches of Israel!"