Freedom From Atheism Foundation Trolls Atheists By Falsely Accusing Them of Trolling

Lying for Jesus, anyone?

Here‘s a roundup of two studies about Internet trolling, courtesy of Live Science:

“Trolls” — people who intentionally incite discord in online communities — may have a lot in common with real-life sadists, new research suggests. In two studies conducted online, researchers examined personality traits and the online commenting styles of 1,215 people. The investigators found that Internet trolls tended to have personality traits related to sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism — a term used by psychologists to describe a person’s tendency to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain. The link between trolling and sadism was the strongest out of all three traits, the researchers said.

So what could explain the links between trolling and sadism? Simply put, some people seem to enjoy being argumentative and purposefully disruptive, according to the researchers. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others,” the researchers, from the University of Manitoba in Canada, wrote in the study. “Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground.”

There are no apparent data that show that the ultra-religious do more trolling than the moderately religious, or vice versa — or that the non-religious like trolling better than believers. Neither atheism nor theism/deism are mentioned at all in the piece, because religious feeling, or the absence of it, wasn’t a focus of the studies.

But here‘s how the Freedom From Atheism Foundation spun the Live Science article.

Atheists who spend their time trolling religious facebook pages, comments sections, etc. were found to have personality traits related to sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. Perhaps its time for these atheists to realize that they have a problem that needs to be fixed.

Note that the FFAF even changed the headline (“Atheist Behind the Screen: the ‘Internet Troll’ Personality”) — maliciously replacing the word ‘Sadist’ with ‘Atheist’ and passing that new title off as the Live Science original.

If that isn’t trolling (and bearing false witness to boot), I don’t know what is.


P.S. A little potpourri of the responses:

(Top image via Shutterstock)

Those Peaceful Buddhists

Let’s say there’s this man who

…began showing up regularly at Wat Busayadhammavanara, a Buddhist Temple in White Settlement, Tex., a Fort Worth suburb. He had Thai friends, adored Thai food and said he always felt drawn to the culture, said Pat Pundisto, a member of the temple answering the phone there on Monday. He was a regular at Sunday services, intoning Buddhist chants and staying to meditate afterward.

Guess who? Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter who killed a dozen innocents yesterday.

Eating Buddha’s Shit. Literally.

Most eye-popping passage from a recent Rolling Stone article about American Buddhist teacher Michael Roach:

To underscore the importance of one’s teacher, Roach’s acolytes consumed dutsi, pills that supposedly contain bits of symbolic scatological material going back to Buddha (a secretive practice among Tibetan Buddhist initiates). “People worked for free in order to catapult their karma out of the prosaic shitter,” says Morris [a source]. “So you had a lot of people eating shit, literally and figuratively.”

Wow. That’s some silly shit. Because I can’t resist a good poop joke, I have more about this at the Friendly Atheist.

Religious People Score Embarrassingly Low on Knowledge of Their Holy Texts; Atheists Excel

I remember reading about this study when it came out, in 2010, but I’d never seen this illuminating CNN interview with the chief authors. Tip of the hat to reddit.

Also, per the screenshot below, I somehow managed to be the 666th viewer of that YouTube video. Cross yourself!

CNN_ Do agnostics know more than believers? - YouTube

Myanmar Buddhists Reprise ‘Kristallnacht’: Gov’t Tells Besieged Muslims to Stop Breeding Already

There was more Buddhist-on-Muslim sectarian violence in Myanmar today. Two mosques were badly damaged and hundreds of Muslims’ homes went up in flames.

Buddhist mobs hurling bricks overran a pair of mosques and set hundreds of homes ablaze in central Myanmar on Tuesday, injuring at least 10 people in the latest anti-Muslim violence to shake the Southeast Asian nation.

Terrified Muslim families who fled the assaults around Okkan, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Yangon, could be seen hiding in forests along roads and crouching in paddy fields afterward. Some, in a state of shock, wept as their houses burned in the night.

About five weeks ago, there were similar riots and attacks, some involving saffron-robed Buddhist monks who went to town with clubs and knives. Multiple mob murders were reported then, including the killings of children. The violence was so gleeful and vicious that the International Herald Tribune compared it to Kristallnacht.


Luckily, the government knows just what to do with the tiny Muslim minority (four percent of Myanmar’s population).

On Monday, a government-appointed commission investigating the [earlier] violence issued proposals to ease tensions there — including doubling the number of security forces in the volatile region…

Good, because cops stood idly by before, outnumbered by the mob and not all that interested in stopping the mayhem…

…and introducing family planning programs to stem population growth among minority Muslims.

Read that again. To help Muslims who were burned and beaten out of their homes, the Myanmar government tells them to curb their breeding.

As it stands now, Buddhists may still multiply to their hearts’ content.

[image by Soe Zeya Tun / REUTERS, via]

Men Behaving Badly: U.S. Buddhist Monk Leaks Sexytime Recording of Another Buddhist Monk

A Buddhist monk in Massachusetts may regret having sex with Men. Maya Men.

Ms. Maya Men (we’ll refer to her as MMM from here on out, to avoid confusion) is the plaintiff in a case that came before a Massachusetts judge yesterday. The woman is upset over the existence and alleged distribution of a compromising tape that shows her making sexytime with Nhem Kimteng, a Cambodian monk (photo). Kimteng was helping MMM lead a $10 million Buddhist temple project in Lowell, Mass.


The monk has been dismissed from the Community of Khmer Buddhist Monks’ temple project (though it could be argued that he was just exploring MMM’s temple, in a totally holy and Biblical sense). Other members of Lowell’s Khmer Vat community see evidence of Men behaving badly, and want her kicked out too.

According to the temple’s website, MMM

oversees the temple’s daily activities and manages the Buddhist monks appointments and makes sure everything is running smoothly.

Well, things aren’t so smooth anymore. “The [Cambodian] community is being destroyed by the two individuals in the tape,” Lowell City Councilor Vesna Nuon said.

MMM, who doesn’t seem to have heard of the Streisand Effect, claims that five defendants violated her right to privacy and her constitutional rights. She has suffered emotional distress as a result, she says.

One of the five accused of distributing the involuntary porn tape is another Buddhist monk, Cheng Leang.

MMM is asking for punitive damages, and money for an investigation to track down and destroy the original recording and any copies.

Yesterday, the judge ordered two defendants, including Leang, to stop making or distributing any copies of the recording. The men were also ordered not to contact MMM or go within 100 feet of her. The three other defendants agreed not to distribute the recording, but without conceding that they’d done so previously.

MMM’s attorney said he will be investigating reports that local businesses are selling the sex tape for $1.

One thing is certain: As a community dedicated to “solidarity,” “compassion,” and “peacefulness,” Khmer Vat followers still have a ways to go.

[photo via birdstardesign]

Numerology Inspires Butchering Buddhists

In holy books, numbers are rarely considered to be utilitarian placemarkers. Religion has a way of making believers try to infuse numbers with meaning. Take the Quran (please). Its followers say that the perfection of the book is partly in the mathematical relationships that supposedly point to its divine origin. Like so:

The miracle of the Qur’an is a phenomenal mathematical relationship of the chapters, verses, words and the numbers in the holy Qur’an. For example the Qur’an has 114 chapters (19X6), The first verse 1:1 known as “Bism’allah” consists of 19 letters. The total number of verses in the Qur’an is 6346, or 19 x 334.The “Bism’allah” occurs in the Qur’an 114 times (19 x 6), despite its conspicuous absence from Chapter 9. The famous first revelation ( 96:1-5 ) consists of 19 words. This 19-worded first revelation consists of 76 letters, & 76 = 19 x 4.

Et cetera. Never mind that you can find such links in any text with an excessive amount of numbered order. The more chapters and subchapters and footnotes, the more “meaning” there is to infer from the voluminous mathematical connections you can make between those numbered parts. It’s both tedious and silly (to a language-loving rightbrainer like me, at least), but that’s never stopped people from doing it. Some Bible aficionados think that there’s something numerically revealing about their book too:

Dark and unwholesome things are associated with 13 or multiples of 13. Belial – the personification of evil has a numerical equivalent of 78 – 13 x 6. All the famines and epidemics have been somehow associated with the number 13.


Disappointingly, Buddhists play the same games — at least a lot of the ones in Myanmar do, the saintly ones who’ve been rampaging through Muslim neighborhoods to commit torture and murder and arson. Last month, in the Meiktila area alone, sectarian violence by nationalist Buddhists claimed some 40 Muslim lives and 800 buildings, and it displaced roughly 8,000 people. What caused the blood orgy? One part of the answer is a book. With numbers. From the Atlantic:

One number has become indelibly associated with these attacks — 969, a “grassroots” Buddhist nationalist movement that many claim is supported by elements within the military. While 969’s unofficial leaders claim that the movement is a non-violent response to a Buddhist society under strain from “foreign” influence, its rhetoric brings to mind the kind of language associated with the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century.

969 has its ideological roots in a book written in the late 1990s by U Kyaw Lwin, a functionary in the ministry of religious affairs, and its precepts are rooted in a traditional belief in numerology. Across South Asia, Muslims represent the phrase bismillah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim, or “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful,” with the number 786, and businesses display the number to indicate that they are Muslim-owned. 969’s proponents see this as evidence of a Muslim plot to conquer Burma in the 21st century, based on the implausible premise that 7 plus 8 plus 6 is equal to 21. The number 969 is intended be 786’s cosmological opposite, and represents the “three jewels:” the nine attributes of the Buddha, the six attributes of his teachings, and the nine attributes of the Sangha, or monastic order. …

The figure often identified as the de-facto leader of 969 is a monk named Ashin Wirathu [photo, front], who was jailed in 2003 for inciting religious conflict and released as part of a general amnesty in January 2012. The content of his sermons, distributed via DVDs he produces at his monastery in Mandalay, would not be out of place at the Nuremberg rallies.

When Westerners speak of Islam as the religion of peace, the phrase usually drips with sarcasm, and rightly so. But we tend to think of Buddhists as the real peace-bringers — non-violent and kind and humble. Considering the recent Myanmar spectacle of bloodthirsty saffron-robed Buddhist monks wielding knives and hunting down Muslims, that picture may need a little adjusting.


[image via BBC News]

A Nation of Believers … In Just About Anything

Irrational beliefs are alive and well in the United States. For instance,

One in five Republican voters believes Barack Obama is the ‘antichrist’ and nearly a third of all Americans think a secret power elite controls the world, according to new research on conspiracy theories.

A survey by the Public Policy Polling group aimed to shed light on the link between political leanings and belief in conspiracy theories. The poll found that:

• 34 percent of Republicans polled believe a New World Order controls the world, compared with 35 percent of independent voters and 15 percent of Democrats.

• 29 percent of US voters believe aliens exist.

• 13 percent of voters think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, including 22 percent of Romney voters.

More here.


I’m happy for people to believe whatever they want — no skin off my backside. All the same, it can be dispiriting to live in a country whose populace takes to nonsense and disinformation as a fish takes to water.

The survey steered clear of asking about delusional beliefs in various deities, but we know the picture would have been bleak indeed.

[image via Shirtoid]

Amen. I Mean, Right On.

Via BrightRock.


Buddhist Murder Mobs Torture Men, Kill Babies

As regular Moral Compass readers know, Buddhists haven’t just gone on rampages in Sri Lanka recently: they’ve also organized into murder mobs across the Bay of Bengal, in Myanmar (the former Burma), 1,400 miles away.

Today, Swe Win, a reporter for the International Herald Tribune, provides on-the-ground reporting from Myanmar. The pandemonium that eye witnesses described to him is horrific enough that he or his editor headlined the piece “Kristallnacht in Myanmar.”

The violence stemmed from a trivial row over a broken gold clip between a Muslim jeweler and a Buddhist customer last Wednesday morning [March 20]. The brawl, which left the Buddhist customer with an injury to the head, happened in Meiktila, a trading town of 100,000 people at the center of the country, with an army base and no history of sectarian violence. The town’s Muslims have no links to the stateless Rohingyas in western Myanmar; they have a long and peaceful lineage here.

In Myanmar, Violence Against Muslims Is Used To Derail Political Reforms -

Still, by that same afternoon anti-Muslim mobs were destroying the Muslim gold shops of Meiktila’s market area. Then, in revenge, local Muslims stabbed to death a monk traveling from a nearby village. That murder in turn unleashed a killing spree of Muslims on Wednesday night and over the next two days. “Any Muslim, old or young, including babies, was killed that night,” Myo Htut, an eyewitness, told me this week.

“A Muslim man around 40-years-old had his legs tied to a motorcycle and was dragged on the road. Since he was still half alive after that torture, the crowd beat him up with sticks and then burned him on the motorcycle.” Myo Htut estimated that the death toll from the three days of violence reached around 200. State media put it at 40.

Other witnesses Swe Win spoke with described

…wild mobs — including saffron-robed monks with sticks and knives — hunting down Muslims and torching entire blocks, including at least five mosques, in Muslim neighborhoods.

Swe Win himself appears to be a Buddhist, if his Twitter photo is any guide. It is to his great credit that he’s made no attempt to sweep the atrocities of his fellow Buddhists under the rug.

By contrast, one Buddhist commenter on reddit wasn’t too contrite about his tribe’s violent shenanigans.

History teaches Buddhists that when Buddhism and Islam meet, Buddhists die. … And, no, I don’t excuse [the violence in Myanmar]. I think its horrible. I wish the army would come in to separate the two communities again. However, people have a right to defend themselves as well. [emphasis added]

Read the Herald Tribune‘s account and tell me if the Buddhist brutality seems remotely like self-defense to you.

Buddhists Losing Their Shit

If there’s one faith that displays nothing but good will toward all, as well as peacefulness and inner calm, it’s gotta be Buddhism, right?

Yeah, about that:

Several people have been injured in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, when Buddhist monks led hundreds in an assault on a Muslim-owned clothing warehouse. Buddhist monks were filmed throwing stones at the storage centre of popular garment chain Fashion Bug in a suburb of the capital on Thursday night. … The attack comes as hard-line Buddhist groups step up a campaign against the lifestyles of Muslims. ….

…The BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo said the monks led a crowd which quickly swelled to about 500, yelling insults against the shop’s Muslim owners and rounding on journalists seeking to cover the events. Five or six were injured, including a cameraman who needed stitches.


Eyewitnesses said the police stood and watched although after the trouble spread they brought it under control.

Reportedly, no arrests were made. The cops will no doubt get another chance, because Buddhist nationalists appear to be baying for blood:

[The] hard-line Buddhist party in the governing coalition issued a statement saying: “Sinhalese Buddhists should be determined to teach such Muslim extremists a lesson that they will never forget”.

The hatred and violence are not exactly unprecedented. For instance, last year,

A mosque in the central town of Dambulla was attacked with petrol bombs and vandalized by a mob led by radical Buddhist monks. To add insult to injury, the government bowed to the mob’s demand and ordered the mosque’s demolition and relocation.

[image via Colombo Telegraph]

More Education = Less Religion

Does more education lead to less religion?

Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner says yes, and he bases that on a study by Daniel Hungerman, an economist at Notre Dame who studies religious faith. Hungerman, using an exclusively Canadian data set, concluded that

…higher levels of education lead to lower levels of religious participation later in life. An additional year of education leads to a 4-percentage-point decline in the likelihood that an individual identifies with any religious tradition; the estimates suggest that increases in schooling can explain most of the large rise in non-affiliation in Canada in recent decades.

Of course, this is not at all the same as saying that the religious are less intelligent. For those who care to wade into that minefield, there’s Prof. Helmuth Nyborg’s 2008 study. Nyborg correlated religiosity and IQ, and found that

…atheists scored an average of 1.95 IQ points higher than agnostics, 3.82 points higher than liberal persuasions, and 5.89 IQ points higher than dogmatic persuasions.

In a separate research project that involved IQ levels of almost 7,000 U.S. adolescents, Nyborg and a fellow academic, Prof. Richard Lynn, concluded that atheists scored six IQ points higher than non-atheists. They also found that at the international level, the nations with the biggest populations of atheists are the ones that scored highest for overall intelligence.


Fundamentalists are very often wary of children receiving a good (higher) education, and now we know that, in their own warped way, they’re completely right.

[image via pkpolitics]