Dead Pope Prankster

Part 1

Achievement unlocked: Attain sainthood
There’s a story being repeated uncritically all over the Net, about a woman who had a brain aneurysm, but didn’t die of it because a dead pope magically healed her.

Oh, and this allows the dead pope to level up. From HuffPo:

Mora, her doctors and the Catholic Church say her aneurysm disappeared that day in a miracle that cleared the way for the late pope to be declared a saint on April 27 in a ceremony at the Vatican where Mora will be a guest of honor.

Now, one might reasonably ask, how do we know that this was really magic? Floribeth Mora presents this compelling line of evidence:

Acknowledging that many people would be highly sceptical of her recovery, and of the whole concept of miracles, she said that “people can think what they want – what I know is that I’m healthy.”

“There are always people who don’t believe me, who say I’m crazy, but what counts for me today is that this ‘crazy woman’ is cured.”

So we know that she was cured because she said so. With evidence like that, who needs to see X-rays or MRIs or lab results? Besides The Telegraph writes:

Even her neurosurgeon seems to be convinced. “If I cannot explain it from a medical standpoint, something non-medical happened,” said Alejandro Vargas Roman. “I can believe it was a miracle.”

But here’s what Reuters wrote last year, when the Catholic Church approved Mora’s cure as the second in the two-miracle-minimum needed for John Paul II’s promotion:

The neurosurgeon who admitted and diagnosed Mora, however, denies he gave her a month to live. Alejandro Vargas says he forecast only a 2 percent chance Mora could bleed into her brain again within a year of her diagnosis, possibly killing her.

“She was sent home with medication that would reduce her blood pressure and was advised to improve her diet so as not to raise her cholesterol levels and thus decrease the chance of her having a second bleeding episode. She was sedated because the headaches were too sharp,” he told Reuters. “We didn’t send her home to be sedated and wait until she died in her sleep.”

That’s all well and good—how many people can you name who survived a disease with a 2% mortality rate?—but how do we know that Dead Pope was involved? Religion News Service:

She claimed her prayers were answered when John Paul II appeared to her in a vision on the day he was beatified — the first step on the road to sainthood — after he was credited with his first miracle.

“When I woke up in the morning, I looked at the magazine cover which showed Pope Wojtyla with his arms outstretched.

“I felt a deep sense of healing. I heard his voice say to me, ‘Get up and don’t be afraid,’” she said, recalling one of John Paul’s signature lines.

I don’t know what else you doubting Thomases want. If you can’t trust someone who’s just been stressed out by a hospital stay, is on new meds, and has a thing in her brain, whom can you trust? There’s no way she could possibly be mistaken!

But she was cured, right? And both Mora and her doctor said that they don’t know how she was healed, so therefore they know how she was healed (it was Dead Pope Magic) (Dead Pope Magic is the name of my next webcomic). That’s just logic.

Okay, so she was dying (but not really dying) of an aneurysm, and now it’s gone. And she can’t think of a better explanation than the one that she really really likes (Dead Pope magiced her back to health), so obviously that explanation must be the correct one. And she won’t provide any solid evidence because, well, doubters gonna doubt.

I’m sold!

Part 2

But apparently there’s some kind of Law of Conservation of Pope Magic, because on the same day that the Catholic church was celebrating Dead Pope John Paul II healing that one woman… Well, I’ll let Italian news agency ANSA tell it:

(ANSA) – Brescia, April 24 – A young man in northern Italy was crushed to death Thursday by a falling crucifix that was built to honor pope John Paul II’s 1998 visit to Brescia. The 21-year-old’s death comes just three days before John Paul will be canonized in Rome.

Does this count as JP2’s third miracle?

Religious Righties Have Trouble With the Irony. And the Facebook. And the Truth.

(Via Right Wing Watch.)

This post at pro-life site highlights this video:

The video shows a woman with bruises and cuts on her face. She shows how to use makeup and accessories to cover up the fact that she was beaten. The video ends by saying “65% of women who suffer domestic violence keep it hidden. Don’t cover it up.”

The video, which uses the irony that kids today seem to appreciate, is by the British anti-domestic-violence organization Refuge. Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with it, as far as I know. They just chose to link to it on their Planned Parenthood for Teens Facebook page.

So far, so good. even says as much. Where Life News’s article goes off the rails, is

The video is from a legitimate organization in the UK that fights domestic violence. But the way Planned Parenthood headlines it—with “How to look your best the morning after,” teens are mislead by Planned Parenthood into the cover up mentality. On the anti-domestic violence site, the video is introduced with the headline: “Don’t cover it up.” That headline makes a world of difference to young teens who run across the video.

(emphasis added.)

Ah, so maybe Planned Parenthood didn’t watch the video to the end, didn’t realize that it was ironic, and thought that their readers would really and sincerely appreciate some advice on how to cover up their beatings, rather than doing something to stop them. So what did Planned Parenthood for Teens write about the video?

A recent study showed that almost 1 in 10 high school students has been hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last 12 months. Watch this video and tell us in the comments what you would do if Lauren was your best friend.

Below that are the things you normally get when you link to a YouTube video from Facebook: the title and description as they appear on YouTube. The title “How to look your best the morning after” was chosen by the uploader, not by Planned Parenthood.

But I guess it’s too much to expect Life News to understand that, or to accuse Planned Parenthood of a position that no one in the history of compassion has ever adopted. It would apparently also be too much to expect Life News to link to the actual post so that people could see for themselves (perhaps they realize that doing so would undermine their point).

And given how Life News didn’t exactly go out of its way—or even get up off the metaphorical sofa—to make this easy to find, perhaps its readers can be forgiven for just believing the article and launching accusations against Planned Parenthood without checking them out:

Perhaps. But perhaps not.

See also Twitchy’s article. I don’t know enough about Twitchy to know whether this is serious, sarcastic, or merely unfiltered, but they do have links to lots of tweets by people who didn’t stop to get basic facts first. Actually, I’m leaning toward right-wing nutbaggery, because the Sarcasm-O-Meter isn’t twitching, and because of passages like:

But the way Planned Parenthood framed it, the message is just the opposite: “You probably had it coming, girls. May as well try to doll yourselves up afterward.” Appalling.

At the bottom of the page, the author of the piece is outraged—outraged, I tell you!—that PP would dare to tell teenaged girls that yes, their labia are normal.

It’s too bad that whichever edition of the Bible these people are using doesn’t seem to have anything about “do not bear false witness against your neighbor”.

Oh, the Irony!

In a post railing against the organization Catholics for Choice, BillDo writes:

Here’s another irony: there really is no organization called Catholics for Choice. It has no members, and is in fact nothing more than a well-funded letterhead, sponsored by the establishment.

I’ve been keeping a distracted eye on the Catholic League for years, and for all intents and purposes, it’s just Billy and his Electrified Rage-Powered Press Release Machine. So he might not be the best person to complain about one-man operations that look like large organizations.

This press release was written and approved by Americans for Transparency in Douchebaggery. For immediate release. All rights reserved. And your mother dresses you funny.

Way to Undermine Your Case

Today’s WSJ has an article about the Proposition 8 suit in California:

Defenders of California’s ban on same-sex marriage began making their case Monday, countering the plaintiffs’ argument that gays and lesbians are subject to discrimination.

Which is all well and good until you see the photo that ran next to the article:

Prop 8 Discrimination

So this guy is holding up a sign saying “No gay rights”. Right in front of the courthouse in which the lawyers for his side are trying to argue that gays aren’t discriminated against.

I believe that counts as an own goal.

“Do you even know what intelligent design is?”

On the Pensacola News Journal’s letters page, one John Pasquale writes:

Do you even know what intelligent design is? Does your child?

Look into the work of biochemist Dr. Michael J. Behe or go to (Institute for Creation Research).

At the ICR site, we learn that

The first human beings did not evolve from an animal ancestry, but were specially created in fully human form from the start.

and also that evolution has never occurred and is not happening now, and could never happen at all. Furthermore, “the millions of years postulated by old-Earth advocates never happened.

Michael Behe, on the other hand, writes in Darwin’s Black Box, pp. 5-6:

For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. I greatly respect the work of my colleagues who study the development and behavior of organisms within an evolutionary framework, and I think that evolutionary biologists
have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world.

When I asked him, Behe confirmed that he accepts evolution, natural selection, and common descent.

(And let’s not forget that ID proponents are quick to point out that they are not creationists.)

So why would Pasquale recommend learning about ID from both the ICR and Behe? Either 1) ID is so broad a concept that it encompasses both a young and an old earth, both evolution and no evolution, both common descent and separate creation, and is therefore probably far too broad to be of much use; or else 2) Pasquale doesn’t know and doesn’t care about the differences between ID and young-earth creationism.

This seems to be a common affliction. It looks as though the Discovery Institute has a PR problem on its hands: on one hand, it wants to pretend that ID is scientific, which means accepting common descent and denying a literal interpretation of Genesis. On the other hand, it needs the political support of the uneducated rubes who want to believe that “I ain’t related to no monkey”. So no wonder the suckers are confused.

Those Who Do Not Remember the Dictionary Definition Are Condemned to Mangle It

I’ve started hearing the phrase “actionable
being used as a five-dollar synonym for “useful information”, particularly in the context of the debate on how to rebrand torture to make it seem acceptable.

Am I the only one to have noticed the irony here? In case everyone forgot, the first definition of
means “something you can get sued over”. This is not generally considered a Good Thing.