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`Download Epub ì Sleeping With Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety ⚜ In Sleeping with Extra Terrestrials, social critic Wendy Kaminer illuminates the various ways in which society has come to value emotion over reason, faith over fact, and argues that declarations of intense belief have largely taken the place of rational discourse In a world in which How do you feel, seems to be a frequently asked question than What do you know, Kaminer s examination of the rise of spiritualism, the mushrooming junk science, and the habitual merging of political and evangelical speech, blazes with relevance and incisive witProbing the amusing and ominous implications of rampant credulity in our age, Kaminer raises important questions, and provides a thoughtful and eloquent perspective on the perils of present day irrationalism she is one tough minded skeptic i loved it although humorous, the description of religious fundamentalists, ufo types, and new agers surrounding us all is unsettling. The contrary willingness to accept untested personal testimony as public truth is at the heart of the irrationalism that confronts us today Generally, the only proof offered for a fantastic belief is the passion it inspires in believers Kaminer s new book decries the influence that irrational belief has on public policy In the introduction she humorously ridicules her going to a homeopath, recognizing that it has no scientific validity, and she knows the result is due to the placebo eff The contrary willingness to accept untested personal testimony as public truth is at the heart of the irrationalism that confronts us today Generally, the only proof offered for a fantastic belief is the passion it inspires in believers Kaminer s new book decries the influence that irrational belief has on public policy In the introduction she humorously ridicules her going to a homeopath, recognizing that it has no scientific validity, and she knows the result is due to the placebo effect, yet that effect is real to her She argues, however, that others should not take her testimony at face value Objective evidence should be required Kaminer discusses the public s eagerness to join in the hysteria over satanic ritual child abuse, mass mourning for celebrities, how junk science and personal prejudice have influenced public policy decisions related to drugs, school vouchers, and classroom prayer We are in danger of losing our skepticism, she argues, and that is dangerous for a democratic society She acknowledges the personal need of many for divinities, but she suggests that a society that wears its piety in the public square craving for angels and alien abductions, not to mention Saint Diana, islikely to look for miracles than face the challenges of living in a pluralistic society And she comes down quite hard on religious faith as feeding the irrational What s the difference between crossing yourself or hanging a mezuzah outside your door and avoiding black cats Believing that you ve been abducted by aliens or that Elvis is alive is, on its face, no sillier than believing that Christ rose from the dead People who believe that God heeds their prayers have probably waived the right to mock people who talk to trees and guardian angels or claim to channel the spirits of Native Americans One man s superstition is another s sacred Kaminer blames the media for much of this, they quail in the face of the supernatural Skepticism is edited out of journalistic reporting and she doubts H L Mencken could publish many of his antagonistic remarks about religious silliness, arguing that we risk becoming less religiously free than during the Victorian era She is a fervent advocate of religious freedom Separation of church and state does not desire, much less mandate, the banishment of religious faith from public life, as right wing rhetoric sometimes suggests The right of religious people to organize and mount political protest is, in par, a right of private association, which the government is bound to accommodate, but not support But she cites numerous instances of religious viewpoints appearing in work and school settings, almost universally those of Protestant Christianity Kaminer s examples are witty and eerily disturbing Together they present a rather disturbing vision of the future and she ends with a plea for a return to science, skepticism, reason, and freedom of inquiry The rights and interests of individual believers clash with religious institutions when the institutions seek sponsorship of the state Crusades to breach the boundaries between church and state constitute a much greater threat to religious tolerance than any number of evangelical atheists Theocracies throughout history have made that clear As I was reviewing some of Kaminer s magazine articles I stumbled upon a very recent commentary which I quote in its entiretySometimes I put my faith in sectarian rivalries, which helped derail the most recent proposed school prayer amendment to the Constitution Last year, an organization in Arkansas, Put God Back in Public School, decided not to press for the introduction of school prayers in Arkansas instead, they demanded state funding for special Christian schools The group reconsidered the value of school prayer after its founder Kathy Smith, consulted with God I asked God, Do you want me to change the law to put prayer in the schools He said no If you do that, kids would have the right to pray to other gods, too They could pray to Buddha God doesn t want that There is only one GodWhatcan I say but Amen A Joel Osteen book listed on Goodreads has 616 ratings This book has 22 Now it has 23.A trip to the bookstore yesterday showed Osteen s book prominently displayed by the door, with the bestsellers, etc There were rows and rows of self help books, new age books, prosperity books Over and over and over again, people find ways to market New Thought, Positive Thinking, the Law of Attraction, the Law of Reciprocity, and the Prosperity Gospel It strikes me as peculiarly American see the boo A Joel Osteen book listed on Goodreads has 616 ratings This book has 22 Now it has 23.A trip to the bookstore yesterday showed Osteen s book prominently displayed by the door, with the bestsellers, etc There were rows and rows of self help books, new age books, prosperity books Over and over and over again, people find ways to market New Thought, Positive Thinking, the Law of Attraction, the Law of Reciprocity, and the Prosperity Gospel It strikes me as peculiarly American see the book Madame Blavatsky s Baboon for a relevant American history lesson.If you re into mainstream Christianity, there s the Prosperity Gospel God wants you to be rich If you re not rich, attend my church to expand your faith and my pocketbook, and soon the money will come pouring in If you re into New Age spiritualism, there s the power of the mind to attract what it wants through focused spiritual seeking read my book to find out how If you re a fundamentalist, Pat Robertson will teach you the Law of Reciprocity.There is a cyclical remarketing of these same ideas to the reading public who seek personal improvement or advancement in some way The purveyors may or may not believe it but why wouldn t they, look how rich they re getting selling you books on the subject I m reminded of an observation about highly specialized professors in theoretical areas the practical marketplace value in learning what they have to teach is almost exclusively in becoming a teacher of the same material Which is a way of saying the only way to profit from their ideas is to become another purveyor of them not by actually applying them It s a somewhat poor analogy, since many professors in abstract research areas have contributed over time to engineering breakthroughs and the like A better analogy is the chiropractor who believes a spinal adjustment can cure every known ailment, from schizophrenia to cancer at 50 a pop They seem to be true believers but it s easy to be a true believer when you benefit financially.Wendy Kaminer s observations in this book helps one to step back and view all of these phenomena together and understand the forces that allow these purveyors of prosperity porn to proliferate Her subjects range across mainstream religion, the New Age marketplace, the recovery movement, and manyof the intersecting pop religion sects that have integrated with the American gold rush culture to create the omnipresent Oprahfied world of American popular culture today Read it and join the reality based community A group famously denounced by a Bush administration insider who claimed that the government s job was not to fret about reality but to visualize whatever it wanted in the world and then go create it With bombs and deregulation if those are the tools God has placed at our disposal Look how we ve prospered Kaminer s book is probablygrounded in issues of belief and the will to believe in supernatural forces as a psychological phenomenon with less focus on pervasive marketplace consequences than my review suggests There I ve tried to represent the reality of the book a littleclosely, with a little less personal spin on what I want it to be about Oh damn, this book is hilarious Scathing, too Kaminer argues that postmodernism too much subjectivity evangelical Christianity, and forms of New Age religion are going too far in rejecting science It s OK to think this stuff in private, Kaminer writes a little irrationality now and then might be good for the soul It s a problem, however, when private irrationalism shapes public policy Kaminer is an avowed skeptic, and she reads like Christopher Hitchens, if Hitchens werewilling t Oh damn, this book is hilarious Scathing, too Kaminer argues that postmodernism too much subjectivity evangelical Christianity, and forms of New Age religion are going too far in rejecting science It s OK to think this stuff in private, Kaminer writes a little irrationality now and then might be good for the soul It s a problem, however, when private irrationalism shapes public policy Kaminer is an avowed skeptic, and she reads like Christopher Hitchens, if Hitchens werewilling to accommodate and acknowledge doubt Occasionally Kaminer s denunciation of postmodernism and therapeutic politics skews toward the reactionary, but for the most part I found her argument persuasive If any religion, New Age or old age, leads toward dangerous behaviors, or if the government enforces religious values, somebody usually winds up suffering