“We define poverty in an opulent way”

The title is from a must-read at Pyromaniacs: Open Letter to the #Occupy Movement.  It highlights our covetousness and greed in how we compare our state to the wrong standard.  Why does the (alleged) 99% in the U.S. compare itself to the 1% and affix the blame for all their frustrations there?  Why not compare themselves to the real 99% — the rest of the world, most of whom would love to trade places with the bottom fifth of the U.S. citizenry?


But check it out: the line where you and I would say is the line which designates the poorest of the poor is well above the per capita income of more than 85% of the world’s population.  It’s a level of income 80% greater than the per cap GDP of South Africa, 30% greater than Russia, and six times greater than that of India.

That is: we define poverty in an opulent way.  Compared to the UK in 1800, we have defined the crown of Western Civilization to that time down to a dirty little country which we would be offended to live in.  The great part about this is the punchline: it’s because we’re greedy.

That’s right: the problem is not that “they” are greedy – whoever “they” are (the bankers, the capitalists, the stock traders, but apparently not the movie moguls, the actors, the politicians and pop stars) — but that we are greedy.  We want things we didn’t earn, and we can’t imagine that we might have to live on less than we think we are entitled to.  We certainly couldn’t live on what the average Englishman lived on in1800, and may God forbid we have to live on what the average Russian or South African lives on today.  There was a time when we would say it isn’t “fair”, but today we say it’s actually an injustice — as if “justice” has anything to do with us getting something we didn’t actually earn.

I encourage you to watch this amazing video.  Incomes and life spans have gone up dramatically around the world in the last 50 years. We should be celebrating, not coveting.

The “Brights” outsmart themselves again

Apparently this “Belief in Evolution Versus National Wealth” graph is supposed to prove that the lack of widespread support for Darwinian evolution in the U.S. is directly tied to our per capita GDP.  I saw this at a site that worships secularism plus another site that thought the graph was “brilliant.” Then I Googled it and realized that it got virtual high-five’s at a bunch of atheist sites, including those of Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers.

Carefully consider what it shows, then let’s see what it proves.  I think you’ll see a triple-fail of cherry-picking data points that (allegedly) support your cause, a confusion of correlation vs. causation and an ironic misreading of the results.

A comparison of belief in evolution versus national wealth, revealing something interesting about one particular country.

Here’s what the graph really proves: That people predisposed to cheer on Darwinian evolution (or their pet topic) will be quick to grab something that seems to prove their point.  That is something we should all be wary of.

First, think of some of the Middle Eastern countries left off the list.  They have roughly zero belief in evolution and high GDP per capita.  That’s odd how the graph’s author forgot those, eh?  Deliberately ignoring key data points is cheating.

Next, the graph shows that the author and those who revel in his work were not taught the distinction between causation and correlation. Just because the U.S. has a lower percentage of belief in evolution doesn’t mean that is what drove our GDP per person (did I really have to just type that?!).

You could draw endless conclusions to prove your points playing this game. Here’s a freebie: Compare belief in Darwinian evolution to which country has the most military power, then draw a graph. Wow, the skeptics of Darwinian evolution must be right!  We’re the most powerful, and by Darwinian definition we are the most fit!

Finally, it isn’t like the U.S. trails the pack.  We’re #2 after Norway, and I doubt that many people think the only reason Norway is better is because of their evolutionary beliefs.  If anything, you should draw the conclusion that we are better off because we don’t drink the Darwinian Kool-Aid.

What a train wreck of bad thinking!  It seriously fails on three levels but was all the rage on many Darwinian sites.

If the author of the graphs and its supporters came from the same environment, then perhaps that would be reason to mock that educational model.  Darwinian dogma has dominated public schools, government, media and entertainment in the U.S. for decades, yet it still hasn’t convinced us.  So those entities have all failed and/or we just have better critical thinking skills to analyze important topics like this.

Sort of like how we understand the difference between causation and correlation.

It is a sad sort of irony: They think they are more logical, but they do things like this over and over.  Remember, these are the same type of folks pushing the global climate change hoax.

There is one important take away from this graph: The remarkably high percentage of “Brights” who reflexively and uncritically trumpeted it as evidence for their view.  This helps me understand why they are so passionate about their other “scientific” claims.

P.S. If you want some more real science and logic see this post on the cosmological argument.