1.13.2012

Shit Homophobic People Say




(Via Lambda Legal)

Kansas GOP Speaker Calls First Lady 'YoMama,' Cites Psalm Calling For Death Of Leader

Mike O'Neal (R-Asshat)
Via ThinkProgress:
ThinkProgress reported last week that Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal (R) was forced to apologize to First Lady Michelle Obama after forwarding an email to fellow lawmakers that called her “Mrs. YoMama” and compared her to the Grinch. 
Earlier that same week, the Lawrence Journal-World was sent another email that O’Neal had forwarded to House Republicans that referred to President Obama and a Bible verse that says “Let his days be few” and calls for his children to be without a father and his wife to be widowed.
The particular Bible verse is Psalm 109.

Via Faith In Public Life:
A popular conservative meme after President Obama’s election were bumper stickers issuing a “tongue-in-cheek” call to pray for the President, referencing Psalm 109 in the Bible, which actually is a prayer for the death of a leader.

The psalm reads in part:

Let his days be few; and let another take his office
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.
O'Neal forwarded the Psalm email to House Rebublicans with his own endorsement:
“At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”
O'Neal is denying any wrongdoing. He claims that the email, which has been made its way around the Internet, refers to a bumper sticker that reads "Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8."

Pat Cunningham, writing in the Rockford Register Star, doesn't buy it. In a criticism of O'Neal's (and readers') defense of the scripture usage, he states:
You say that verse 8 of Psalm 109, as applied to President Obama, does not suggest a wish for his death. But the first five words of verse 8 are: “Let his days be few.” And verse 9 says: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

The clear implication is not changed by the intervening words: “And let another take his office.”

You suggest yourself that scripture should not be “taken out of context.” Well, the context of Psalm 109 is a wish for someone’s death. As O’Neal says himself: “Look it up — it is word for word!”

Does he expect that anyone who looks up Psalm 109 is going to isolate the second half of verse 8 from the rest of that Psalm?

Don’t be silly.
As an indication of just how un-silly this defense is, Zazzle, one of the biggest sellers of the Psalm 109 stickers and shirts, has posted the following statement on their site:

...It is only after great thought that we have determined that these products, in the context of the full text of Psalm 109, may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest physical harm to the President of the United States. In deference to the Office of the President of the United States, and in accordance with federal law prohibiting the making of threats against the physical wellbeing of the President of the United States, Zazzle has therefore determined that these products are in violation of the Zazzle User Agreement and not appropriate for inclusion in the Zazzle Marketplace. We have begun efforts to remove them from our website, and we will be vigilant to the publication of similar products moving forward.

Zazzle will continue to allow and encourage the submission of products that express disapproval or approval of the President’s policies and actions, but Zazzle will not permit products that may be interpreted to suggest violence toward the President.




Norwegian Black Metal Band 'Taake' Up For Prestigious Music Prize, Despite Anti-Islamic Lyrics

Heavy metal, especially black metal, has always relied heavily on shock value. Throughout the history of metal, bands have looked for new ways to outdo one another.

Taake
In the 80's, many metal bands found their sweet spot in the occult. Taking a cue from Black Sabbath, bands like Venom, Mercyful Fate, and Mayhem took great care in scaring the bejesus out of parents, who often found pentagrams and upside down crosses on their teenage kids' notebooks.

For many years, black metal has been characterized in part by anti-Christian imagery and lyrics. Raging against organized religion has provided a great deal of fuel to black metal bands around the globe.

While there have certainly been some serious implications to the anti-Christian posturing of black metal bands, such as the notorious 1990s Norwegian church burnings, it has mostly been posturing, and nothing more. Shock value.

Where do you go after church burnings? How can you ratchet up the shock value from there?

Take the Norwegian black metal band Taake, who is currently up for the Spelleman Prize, Norway's top music prize (the equivalent of a US Grammy award). Taake has recently ventured into other anti-religious lyrical territories, specifically attacks against Islam.

Via Al Arabiya:
The Norwegian band ‘Taake’ has recently been nominated for a prestigious Norwegian music for best heavy metal band despite lyrics in the album being anti-Islamic.

The Spellemann award is likened to the American Grammy award or the British Brit award in the Scandinavian country’s music industry.

But critics argue that lyrics in their new album’s song ‘Orkan’ (Hurricane) are xenophobic as they include the phrase “To hell with Muhammad and the Mohammedans” and their “unforgivable customs”, whilst the song ends “Norway will awaken”.

Their nomination has sparked outrage among many listeners, claiming the band has gone too far.
Front and back of Taake's 'Anti Islam' t-shirt
Scandanavia has recently had tense relations with the Islamic world, including the infamous Muhammad cartoon controversy the 2010 Stockholm bombing, and the 2011 Norway attacks. Certainly, if a band wanted to ratchet up the shock value, anti-Islam sentiment would seem to be a natural progression for a band like Taake.

On the nominated album 'Noregs Vaapen,' singer Ørjan Stedjeberg refers to Muslims' "unforgivable customs" and calls for a new "kingdom" to "shine through [the] bad years, shame and Christian times".

Taake "do not encourage either violence or racism", Stedjeberg said. "Our view...is that it is shameful to adhere to Christianity or Islam...Taake has never been a political band, and we do not encourage either violence or racism," he said.

Stedjeberg says Taake is an equal-opportunity offender. The band is not anti-Islam, they're anti-religion.

“Our view, in the name of freedom of expression, is that it is shameful to adhere to Christianity or Islam. Incidentally, Christianity is mentioned in the same lyrics, but that doesn’t seem to have been given any emphasis,” he wrote.





1.12.2012

Pastor Steven Andrew's 'Christian Voting Guide'

How many more props can I cram into this shot?
Pastor Steven Andrew, president of USA Christian Ministries and author of Making A Strong Christian Nation has just published his Christian Voting Guide.

Andrew is one of several evangelical pastors who have recently chastised Franklin Graham and Joel Osteen for saying that it's okay for a Christian to vote for a Mormon.

How exactly does Pastor Andrew think a good Christian should vote?

"God shows Christians who to vote for. He has four main voting requirements," states Andrew.
Every person we vote for is expected to have these Biblical qualities:

1) Rules in the fear of God - Fears God, reverent of God

2) Able - Strength, efficiency, wealth and leader of the army

3) Person of truth - Reliable, stable, faithful, true doctrine

4) Hating covetousness - Hater of unjust gain (bribes and other frauds)

If a person doesn’t have all four qualities, they don’t meet God’s standard. Would you agree that a God-fearing person obeys God’s laws found in the Holy Bible and brings others who fear God into government appointments? An unprincipled person brings the wicked who disobey God in leadership.
Andrew goes on to stress the need for a Christian theocracy:
We are to welcome God to all government, schools and courts. The first act of Congress was to read the Holy Bible and pray in Jesus’ name. We are to bring back the Holy Bible and Christian prayer in schools as the settlers, George Washington and our Founding Fathers did for 355 years (1607 – 1962). We are to have pro-life laws and we are to keep God’s marriage of one man and one woman in lifetime covenant.
He states, "The First Amendment means Christianity only, not other beliefs. This is the intent of our Christian Founding Fathers."

So, if you are a tax-paying Jew, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Unitarian, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, etc., you're not welcome here.

Obviously making a case for Michele Bachmann, Andrew states, "While God calls men to lead the USA, the Bible shows that if there isn’t a God fearing man, then a God-fearing woman can be chosen as in the book of Judges when Deborah arose, judged and led the people to victory."

Andrew had been pushing Bachmann and Santorum, but with Bachmann out of the running, is left hailing Santorum as the most God-fearing presidential candidate.

Andrew doesn't mince words when analyzing the remaining candidates:

Ron Paul
"Pray for Ron Paul to seek God first, then Christian freedom...Ron Paul is good at exposing corruption and resisting tyranny, as our Founding Fathers say to do. But Ron Paul voted to put homosexual sin in the military. Paul needs to publicly repent for erroneoulsy believing that God gives the right to sin... Prosperity and freedom are the fruit of obeying God. They don’t come by a libertarian belief that wants freedom but not God.

Newt Gingrich
"While Newt Gingrich is not as bad as a Mormon who has a different gospel (Mitt Romney) or Rick Perry who has betrayed the USA, or Barack Hussein Obama who covers Jesus’ cross and name at Georgetown and who says to leave a living baby to die who survives an abortion, Newt Gingrich is not God’s best for the USA.

1) Newt Gingrich endorsed the homosexual and abortion candidate in NY’s 23rd in 2010 instead of Hoffman, who is more God-fearing. Hoffman may have won if Gingrich did what was right before the Lord. On top of this, voter fraud was discovered and Gingrich did not defend Hoffman.

2) Newt Gingrich would not get rid of all “Government Healthcare” that harms Americans with inferior care, higher costs, “death panels” and other non-Christian things.

3) Reports to be confirmed say Newt Gingrich would help illegal aliens who then vote for anti-God and anti-USA issues, like Obama. This means American citizens are harmed.

4) Newt Gingrich filmed with Nancy Pelosi for the hoax of “Climate Change”.

5) Newt Gingrich has been married three times. What are Gingrich’s loyalty and leadership skills?"

Rick Perry
Andrew has many reasons why Perry is unworthy of the Christian vote. Among them:
"Like obama, Perry signed a hom*os*exual activists “Hate Crimes” law that mocks God and favors sinful sexual “orientations” that God and our Founding Fathers forbid." [Note Andrew's lower-case spelling of Obama, repeated elsewhere.]

"Rick Pery said that Texas can secede from the USA, but God wants the USA to unite in Christ not divide. A “president” doesn’t break up the #1 nation in the world."

"Rick Perry mandated that young girls be vaccinated with Gardasil that killed other girls. But wouldn’t obeying God in abstinence protect girls from sexual diseases?"

"Rick Perry refused to stop obama and tsa’s “sexual assault” and groping at Texas airports when a super majority in the Texas Congress wanted to stop the “sexual assualts”. Rick Perry doesn’t stand up for God’s unalienable rights of personal modesty in our Declaration of Independence."

"Rick Perry campaigned for Al Gore."

Mitt Romney
"Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Mormon’s are secretive, exclusive, do not display the cross and deny the real Jesus Christ His Gospel."

"Romney also did “Government Healthcare” like obama’s"

"Brought Massachusetts away from God, with homosexual sin."

Barack Obama
As if we needed to know Andrew's views on Obama, he provides a laundry list of reasons why Obama is not someone real Christians should support:

"According to Jesus Christ we see that Barack Hussein Obama is not a Christian by his fruit. Jesus warns of wolves in sheep’s clothing."

"Covered Jesus’ name and cross at Georgetown"

"Advocates to leave living babies to die who survive botched abortions"

"Has the blood of millions of aborted babies on his hands"

"Mocks God with sexual and homosexual sin"

"Follows Saul Alynski who dedicates books to Lucifer"

"Called Americans “enemies” in October 2010"

"Mocked God and our Founding Fathers by removing the references to God in the Declaration of Independence when quoting it"

"Lied about the USA’s national motto that it wasn’t “In God We Trust”"

"Lied that the USA is not a Christian Nation. To try to separate a nation from God is the greatest evil to a nation."

"Has broken the law: DOMA, War Powers Act, allowed Mexicans 70 miles into Arizona, “czars”, NDAA removing “due process”, no proof of Constitutional eligibility, worked against the USA constitution…"

"Works against the interest of Americans (“Government Healthcare”, “Hate Crimes”, “ENDA”, “Stimulus”…)"

Based on his writings, I believe we can conclude the following about Pastor Steven Andrew:
"Completely batshit."

"Consistently exhibits terrible grammar and a horrible understanding of constitutional law."

"Cherry-picks his scripture and his US history equally."

"Could really use a fact-checker."

"Creepy as hell."




1.11.2012

Bill Keller: Joel Osteen A 'Gutless Coward' & An 'Idiot' For Defending Romney's 'Fantastical Beliefs'

Televangelist and host of Live Prayer, Bill Keller, has launched an attack against Joel Osteen and Franklin Graham for promoting Mitt Romney and failing to expose Mormonism as a cult.
“They are looked up to as prominent Christian leaders,” Keller said in an interview with The Christian Post. “When you have someone like Franklin Graham going on CNN and saying he has no problem voting for a Mormon like Mitt Romney and Osteen saying Mormons are Christian, it is clear that politics are being put before the eternal soul of man.”
Keller went on to claim that Christians are becoming 'illiterate' about their own faith, and that if they would only read the Book of Mormon they would see the cult's 'fantastical' beliefs:
“Mormons say they are Christians but they do not believe that Jesus was a deity. They believe God was once man and Jesus was conceived sexually. That goes against the basic Christian beliefs. Scientology, Kaballah - they do not pretend to be Christians.”

“Mitt Romney is a temple worshiper, which comes from Messianic beliefs. They believe the Bible is incomplete. They believe in the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, and wearing magical underwear will protect them from evil.”
Perhaps Keller has not read his own holy book, in which the son of God is born to a virgin, walks on water, raises the dead, turns water into wine, is crucified and resurrected, and ascends bodily into heaven.




1.10.2012

Protestant Pastors Overwhelmingly Believe God Did Not Use Evolution, Adam & Eve Were Literal People

Protestant pastors overwhelmingly believe that God did not use evolution to create humans, and believe that Adam and Eve were literal people. They are, however, evenly split on whether the earth is only thousands of years old.

This is according to a survey of 1,000 American Protestant pastors released on January 9 by LifeWay Research.

Via Baptist Press:
When asked to respond to the statement, "I believe God used evolution to create people," 73 percent of pastors disagree, with 64 percent strongly disagreeing and 8 percent somewhat disagreeing. Twelve percent each somewhat agree and strongly agree. Four percent are not sure.

In response to the statement, "I believe Adam and Eve were literal people," 74 percent strongly agree and 8 percent somewhat agree. Six percent somewhat disagree, 11 percent strongly disagree and 1 percent are not sure.
Of course, Lifeway is in the business of selling bibles, so I'm not so sure how seriously we should take this survey. Regardless, those numbers are not terribly encouraging.

However, there are several telling (and fairly obvious) findings from the survey:
  • Mainline Protestant pastors were more likely to accept evolution (25%) than their Evangelical peers (8%).
  • Evangelicals were more likely than Mainline Protestants to strongly agree that Adam and Eve were literal people (82% vs. 50%).
  • Pastors with graduate degrees were more likely to disagree that Adam & Eve were literal people, compared to those with a bachelor's degree (16% vs. 2%).
  • Younger pastors were the least likely to strongly disagree that the earth is only 6,000 years old.
  • Pastors with a graduate degree were more likely to strongly disagree that the earth is 6,000 years old than pastors with a bachelor's degree(42% vs. 18%).
So, even if LifeWay is looking to sell us bibles, their survey shows us that if young Protestants get a college degree and move to an area that is not saturated with religious ideology, they have a decent chance of escaping the ignorance they were born into.






Randall Terry To Run Graphic Anti-Choice Super Bowl Ads During Super Bowl

While you and your family gather around the television to watch the Super Bowl this year, you may be subjected to graphic anti-choice ads featuring aborted fetuses.

Randall Terry, anti-choice activist and founder of Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue), has found a loophole that will allow him to run the ads on local stations during the Super Bowl. How can he do this? Quite simple: He's running for President of the United States.

Via The New Civil Rights Movement:
Terry, who has spent a year in jail and been arrested 50 times for his anti-abortion efforts, is using a Federal Election Commission loophole that ensures ads for political candidates cannot be prohibited within 45 days of an election. Apparently, primaries count, so Terry will be running ads on local stations during Super Bowl XLVI February 5.
Got that? Terry has filed to run for president.

If you think his tactics won't work, you might want to think again.
Terry has already run political ads featuring graphic images of babies killed by abortion during the first and second trimester. The ads were part of a three day ad run in New Hampshire on WBIN. The ads consisted of four 30 second spots that ran in rotation that attacked Obama’s support of child killing by abortion. (Greeley Gazette)
Of course, you can predict that any opposition to the ads will be met with the old standby: "If abortion isn't wrong, then you shouldn't mind seeing the pictures on TV."

A stupid remark that misses the point, but I don't really care to see graphic images of babies being born during Sunday TV commercials, either.





Bryan Fischer On Why God Designed Men To Be Leaders In Home, Church & Society

American Family Association spokesman, and biggest douchebag in the world, Bryan Fischer thinks he's figured out why America is in so much trouble.

It's women's fault, of course (remember that whole Garden of Eden thing?

According to Fischer, God designed men and women differently so that men could run everything.

"The way we have gotten in trouble in public policy, is we have gotten away from masculine characteristics of public policy We have feminized our public policy."

Watch:






Pope: Gay Marriage Is A Threat To Humanity

Via Reuters:

Pope Benedict said Monday that gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined "the future of humanity itself."

He told diplomats from nearly 180 countries that the education of children needed proper "settings" and that "pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman."

"This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself," he said.

So, I suppose this means that the Pope doesn't think gays are human?

And how exactly does gay marriage undermine the family?

Because the child abuse rate is at 0% in lesbian households?

Because same-sex parents raised this kid?

Because 21 studies of children of homosexual parents uniformly found no systematic differences between children reared by a mother and father and those raised by same-sex parents?

Because the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Canadian Psychological Association have all issued reports and resolutions in support of gay and lesbian parental rights?

Pray tell.



Gingrich: Adoption Agencies Should Be Able To Take Taxpayer Money And Then Discriminate Against Taxpayers

Newt Gingrich, giant baby
Here's something that the GOP candidates (and many other Americans, for that matter) can't seem to grasp:

If an organization wishes to take taxpayer money, they should not discriminate against the very taxpayers who are helping to fund that organization.

Take Newt Gingrich (please), who argued on CNN this morning, that religious adoption services should have the right to turn away gay couples wishing to adopt, in states where it is legal for them to do so.

He argues that these religious adoption services, such as the Catholic Church, have "been forced to close," when, in reality, they closed up shop rather than follow the laws required of them.

GINGRICH: Because you’re saying to religious group, give up your religion. That’s absurd. The idea that the state would impose its secular values on a religious organization is an absurdity.

O’BRIEN: If you want funding. Isn’t that if you want funding.

GINGRICH: No. No. In Massachusetts.

O’BRIEN: You can do whatever you want but if you want funding.

GINGRICH: No, that’s not true. That’s not true. There are states now, including the District of Columbia, which essentially adopt laws that say you can’t offer an adoption service unless you meet the secular standards of the state. They are in effect saying the secular standards of the state are more important than religious freedom. I think it is inherently anti-Christian and anti-Jewish. It is in favor of a secular model, that I think is wrong. And I think that it’s wrong for the government to impose its values on religion. That’s the whole point of the First Amendment, is to not have the government imposing values on religion.






1.09.2012

Tebow 3:16 -- Coincidences, Odds & Our Need To Find Order In A Chaotic World

By now you've probably heard that Tim Tebow is a miracle worker. Last night, the bible verse-wearing, sideline-kneeling quarterback threw an 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime to lift his Broncos past the Steelers.

If the entire season had not already elicited talk of divine intervention, last night's overtime win put the miracle-speak in overdrive.

Tebow passed for 316 yards against the Steelers, completing 10 of 21 pass attempts. In other words, he passed for 31.6 yards per completion.

For those unaware, Tebow's favorite Bible verse is John 3:16.

Anyone who dipped into the Twitter stream last night would likely have seen the coincidences piling up. Many of them making any number of peripheral and mundane facts and figures into signs of the divine.


Sure, it's a neat story. The publicly devout Christian football player has had his share of come-from-behind victories this year. He has overcome the odds on many occasions. He happened to throw for 316 yards in the most important game of the year.

Oh yeah, and his coach's name is John. And he threw that winning pass to a guy who was born on Christmas. And the abbreviation for overtime is OT, which is also the abbreviation for Old Testament.

But does it prove anything? Is it more than a coincidence? I mean, seriously, what are the chances?

Lisa Belkin, in a wonderful 2009 New York Times Magazine piece on odds, coincidence, and our need to find order in our chaotic world, writes:
The true meaning of [coincidence] is ''a surprising concurrence of events, perceived as meaningfully related, with no apparent causal connection.'' In other words, pure happenstance. Yet by merely noticing a coincidence, we elevate it to something that transcends its definition as pure chance. We are discomforted by the idea of a random universe. Like Mel Gibson's character Graham Hess in M. Night Shyamalan's new movie ''Signs,'' we want to feel that our lives are governed by a grand plan.

The need is especially strong in an age when paranoia runs rampant. ''Coincidence feels like a loss of control perhaps,'' says John Allen Paulos, a professor of mathematics at Temple University and the author of ''Innumeracy,'' the improbable best seller about how Americans don't understand numbers. Finding a reason or a pattern where none actually exists ''makes it less frightening,'' he says, because events get placed in the realm of the logical. ''Believing in fate, or even conspiracy, can sometimes be more comforting than facing the fact that sometimes things just happen.''
Belkin reminds us of the mountain of coincidental details that many saw as meaningful after the events of 9/11:
We need to be reminded, Paulos and others say, that most of the time patterns that seem stunning to us aren't even there. For instance, although the numbers 9/11 (9 plus 1 plus 1) equal 11, and American Airlines Flight 11 was the first to hit the twin towers, and there were 92 people on board (9 plus 2), and Sept. 11 is the 254th day of the year (2 plus 5 plus 4), and there are 11 letters each in ''Afghanistan,'' ''New York City'' and ''the Pentagon'' (and while we're counting, in George W. Bush), and the World Trade towers themselves took the form of the number 11, this seeming numerical message is not actually a pattern that exists but merely a pattern we have found. (After all, the second flight to hit the towers was United Airlines Flight 175, and the one that hit the Pentagon was American Airlines Flight 77, and the one that crashed in a Pennsylvania field was United Flight 93, and the Pentagon is shaped, well, like a pentagon.)
Sound familiar? If we were to start digging though other statistics from the game, and from Tebow's life (and believe me, many are busy piling these up right now -- we will continue to see them trickle out this week), we would find an endless stream of forced, and increasingly thin, coincidences.

We would also find the same coincidences by crunching numbers related to our own daily lives -- even those of us who are not devout. The most breathtaking of happenings, Belkin says, could actually have been predicted by statistics.
The mathematician will answer that even in the most unbelievable situations, the odds are actually very good. The law of large numbers says that with a large enough denominator -- in other words, in a big wide world -- stuff will happen, even very weird stuff. ''The really unusual day would be one where nothing unusual happens,'' explains Persi Diaconis, a Stanford statistician who has spent his career collecting and studying examples of coincidence. Given that there are 280 million people in the United States, he says, ''280 times a day, a one-in-a-million shot is going to occur.''

Throw your best story at him -- the one about running into your childhood playmate on a street corner in Azerbaijan or marrying a woman who has a birthmark shaped like a shooting star that is a perfect match for your own or dreaming that your great-aunt Lucy would break her collarbone hours before she actually does -- and he will nod politely and answer that such things happen all the time. In fact, he and his colleagues also warn me that although I pulled all examples in the prior sentence from thin air, I will probably get letters from readers saying one of those things actually happened to them.
Robert J. Tibshirani, a statistician at Stanford University, uses the example of a hand of poker as a great example of how we ignore the millions of meaningless events in our lives, but find meaning in the events which happen to trigger a mental connection.
''The chance of getting a royal flush is very low,'' he says, ''and if you were to get a royal flush, you would be surprised. But the chance of any hand in poker is low. You just don't notice when you get all the others; you notice when you get the royal flush.''
The odds that Tim Tebow passed for 316 odds are similar to the odds that he'd pass for 309. We simply would not have made any big deal out of it if he threw for 309 yards (except for the fact that it was impressive yardage that helped him win a game).

Still, the faithful will continue to insist that there simply has to be meaning. They will continue to say, "Coincidence? I think not," and ask, "What are the odds?" Again, these people are focusing on the seemingly meaningful connection, and ignoring real-world statistics.

Belkin describes 'The Birthday Problem':
There are as many as 366 days in a year (accounting for leap years), and so you would have to assemble 367 people in a room to absolutely guarantee that two of them have the same birthday. But how many people would you need in that room to guarantee a 50 percent chance of at least one birthday match?

Intuitively, you assume that the answer should be a relatively large number. And in fact, most people's first guess is 183, half of 366. But the actual answer is 23. In Paulos's book, he explains the math this way: ''[T]he number of ways in which five dates can be chosen (allowing for repetitions) is (365 x 365 x 365 x 365 x 365). Of all these 365 5 ways, however, only (365 x 364 x 363 x 362 x 361) are such that no two of the dates are the same; any of the 365 days can be chosen first, any of the remaining 364 can be chosen second and so on. Thus, by dividing this latter product (365 x 364 x 363 x 362 x 361) by 365 5 , we get the probability that five persons chosen at random will have no birthday in common. Now, if we subtract this probability from 1 (or from 100 percent if we're dealing with percentages), we get the complementary probability that at least two of the five people do have a birthday in common. A similar calculation using 23 rather than 5 yields 1/2, or 50 percent, as the probability that at least 2 of 23 people will have a common birthday.''

Got that?

Using similar math, you can calculate that if you want even odds of finding two people born within one day of each other, you only need 14 people, and if you are looking for birthdays a week apart, the magic number is seven. (Incidentally, if you are looking for an even chance that someone in the room will have your exact birthday, you will need 253 people.) And yet despite numbers like these, we are constantly surprised when we meet a stranger with whom we share a birth date or a hometown or a middle name. We are amazed by the overlap -- and we conveniently ignore the countless things we do not have in common.
We are pattern-seeking creatures. This is likely part of our biology, a behavior that evolved to help us survive. Early humans needed to be hyper-aware of anomalies in order to detect threats. And while these happy accidents provide many with hope and inspiration, our willingness to attach meaning also works to our detriment. We have, in many ways, become fundamentally irrational beings.
The more personal the event, the more meaning we give it...

The fact that personal attachment adds significance to an event is the reason we tend to react so strongly to the coincidences surrounding Sept. 11. In a deep and lasting way, that tragedy feels as if it happened to us all.

[This] sheds light on the countless times that pockets of the general public find themselves at odds with authorities and statisticians. Her results might explain, for instance, why lupus patients are certain their breast implants are the reason for their illness, despite the fact that epidemiologists conclude there is no link, or why parents of autistic children are resolute in their belief that childhood immunizations or environmental toxins or a host of other suspected pathogens are the cause, even though experts are skeptical. They might also explain the outrage of all the patients who are certain they live in a cancer cluster, but who have been told otherwise by researchers.
While the Tebow divine intervention anecdotes themselves are harmless, and while many may find inspiration and hope in his story, we must remember that there is a down-side to cobbling together random bits of information and forming a conclusion.

In some ways, the Tebow narratives reinforce many people's irrationality. We are simply too caught up in the feel-good nature of the story to realize that this is the same type of thinking that has fueled everything from truthers and anti-vaxxers, to bigotry and grilled cheese sandwich auctions.