religion

AA and "12 Step" programs don't work

Some 12 step groups hew less closely to the specifics of the steps than to a general attitude of social support. But at the root of it, 12 step groups are based on a religious ideology rather than scientific evidence. Bill Wilson even wrote, "At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God." Yet our legal system still forces people into these religious programs. And the addiction treatment industry is making a lot of money off of them, while not helping people. One might say they are making a killing, in both senses of the word.

AA and Rehab Culture Have Shockingly Low Success Rates (Alternet)

AA and rehab have even been codified into our legal system: court-mandated attendance, which began in the late 1980s, is today a staple of drug-crime policy. Every year, our state and federal governments spend over $15 billion on substance-abuse treatment for addicts, the vast majority of which are based on 12-step programs. There is only one problem: these programs almost always fail.

Peer-reviewed studies peg the success rate of AA somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. That is, about one of every fifteen people who enter these programs is able to become and stay sober. In 2006, one of the most prestigious scientific research organizations in the world, the Cochrane Collaboration, conducted a review of the many studies conducted between 1966 and 2005 and reached a stunning conclusion: “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA” in treating alcoholism. This group reached the same conclusion about professional AA-oriented treatment (12-step facilitation therapy, or TSF), which is the core of virtually every alcoholism-rehabilitation program in the country.

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Congressman calls evolution lie from ‘pit of hell’ (Boston Herald)

From the "Why America is Doomed" file: Georgia Congressman Paul Broun said in videotaped remarks that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of hell" that keep people "from understanding that they need a savior." (Since he was speaking at Baptist church, we can assume that he was not talking about a short duration personal savior.)

Broun, who also said that he believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old and that it was made in six days, sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. That's right: this young-earth creationist, and climate change denialist to boot, sits on the Science, Space and Technology committee.

Doomed, I say.

You will not be surprised to learn that he's a Republican and teabagger, who took office after winning a special election in 2007 by 394 votes. Oh, and he proposed amending the Constitution to define marriage as being between one woman and one man; like many defenders of "traditional" marriage, he's been married four times.

He's running for re-election -- and since he's unopposed by any Democratic challenger, it's 99.99% likely that he'll be back for another two years. (Why no challenge from the Democrats? Probably because demographics, gerrymandering, and hyperpartisanship has made a general election challenge impossible.)

This seems to be a case where life imitates XKCD.

Democrats cave on secularism


Image: Wikipedia

For a while yesterday, I was feeling happy with the Democrats. The news was that they had worded a plank of their platform so as to remove a pointless reference to "God" in the phrase "make the most of their God-given potential". It wasn't much, but it looked like a nod to secularism and religious liberty, to the idea that a significant number of Americans are not believers in the idea that some big daddy in the sky is responsible for assigning us our potential. Some of us believe in a big mommy, some in a committee, and some that our potential is based on a combination of heredity and environment. I was pleased that the Dems had made a small move to acknowledge that we have a secular government that leaves these beliefs up to each individual.

The End of WASP rule

Andrew Tanenbaum, electoral-vote.com's "Votemaster",
points out that the era of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant rule in the U.S. is over.

Neither the Democratic nor the Republican ticket has any WASPs on it. While Obama is a Protestant, he isn't white and Joe Biden is a Catholic. On the Republican side, Romney is a Mormon and Ryan is a Catholic.

Neither of the leaders of Congress are WASPS. Speaker John Boehner is a Catholic and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a Mormon. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a Catholic although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is a Baptist.

The Supreme Court is a complete shutout for the WASPs. The current Court consists of six Catholics and three Jews. For the first time in history, there are no Protestants at all on the Court.

Thus of the top 17 positions (four national candidates, four leaders in Congress, and nine Supreme Court Justices) the only WASP is Mitch McConnell. Four of the 17 are women.

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