Archive for November, 2012

I’m not particularly interested in using this website as a platform for advocating for a particular religious view. My metaphysical beliefs are my own, and I’ll debate them in an appropriate forum.

That being said, a website dedicated to examining the odd things in Oklahoma, especially in areas like politics, is going to run afoul of some deeply held religious beliefs inevitably. Some examples of religion intersecting the odd that this site has already covered are the poor spelling on the Ten Commandments monument at the state capitol, Judge Bill Graves’ mean-spirited use of his religious views to do harm to others throughout his political history, and anti-science advocates building monuments to ignorance in Woodward.

That last example shows that it isn’t just the weird intersection of politics and religion that this website will skewer when it comes up. When religious beliefs cross the line from motivating party affiliation and conservative or liberal social values, and move into the realm of advocating for humorous, empirically discredited, or downright harmful beliefs, open season will be declared. Neither liberals or conservatives will be safe. Trust me. If the next Deepak Chopra surfaces in the Oklahoma state limits, he’ll ribbed every bit as hard as Sally Kern. Fair is fair.

Case in point, this post and the next two will be dealing with Scientology and its presence in Oklahoma.

At this point, most readers are thinking one of two things. If they haven’t spent a lot of time on the backwaters of the internet or in California, they might be asking, “Odd Oklahoma, what the heck is Scientology?” We’ll answer that.

The second question that many readers will be asking if they already know a little bit about the religion is, “Odd Oklahoma, what the heck does Scientology have to do with Oklahoma? That religion is centered in California, and to a lesser extent Florida.” We’ll answer that as well.

Don’t let the name fool you, Scientology is a religion, and it is not based on the faithful adoption of the findings of science, as its name would imply. In fact, Scientology is a classic misnomer. It is also important not to confuse Scientology with Christian Science or Religious Science. Those are their own distinct religious traditions that share no background with Scientology.

The faith was founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1952 as a successor to his self-help book Dianetics.

The up front beliefs presented by the church is that we are immortal persons who are plagued by these restless spirits called thetans. These thetans attach to our soul and are the cause of all human misery. The church teaches that by following its tenets and methods, a person can become what it calls “clear”, meaning free of thetans and their negative influence.

The church is structured differently than any church most people would be familiar with. People must pay for all of the services the church provides, and like many cults, members are given access to privileged secrets as they reach new ranks in the religious process.

For example, the church’s origin story for Earth and how thetans came to inhabit our planet isn’t told until members reach a fairly high level and have a lot of financial and personal investment. Ex-members have leaked this story to the broader public, and it has become rather notorious online. It has even been mocked on shows like South Park.

Scientology may have some odd beliefs, but that alone wouldn’t make it worthy of ire. The unethical practices of the church leadership over the years has been heavily documented. So has its doctrine of declaring former members of the church, or church critics, as suppressive persons (SPs) and targeting them for harassment and litigation. The Church of Scientology is notoriously litigious.

Members of the church are also encouraged to shun contact with anyone labeled an SP, even if they are lifelong friends or members of their family. This doctrine has led to a huge number of broken families and relationships over the years.

While all of this is terrible and should make the church a social pariah, the unethical practices of the church are only tangentially related to this series of posts.

It is the church’s belief that it is a superior alternative to mainstream mental health services where Oklahoma comes into play.

Scientology from the beginning has been criticised by mainstream health professionals as unscientific (hence the misnomer accusation above) and not supported by the evidence. Shortly after publishing Dianetics, L. Ron Hubbard began accusing psychiatry of being a conspiracy and a scam. This practice by the church continues today. In fact, the Church of Scientology runs a museum it calls Psychiatry: An Industry of Death, accusing the industry of being malicious. The church rejects both the mental illness paradigm and the use of drugs to treat psychiatric disorders.

One area where the church has set up an alternative approach to treating mental illness is in dealing with addiction. This is where Narconon comes into the picture. Not to be confused with Narcotics Anonymous, which is similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous program, Narconon is a scientology front group that purports to be able to effectively treat addiction to narcotics without use of mainstream methods. Instead, Narconon relies on L. Ron Hubbard’s writings, which claim that drugs are stored in our fat tissues. As the fat tissue is broken down, the drugs are released back into the system. Narconon claims that the drugs can be flushed using massive doses of vitamins, exercise and saunas. This is not supported by empirical evidence.

The largest Narconon facility in the world is located at Lake Eufaula in Oklahoma.

H/T to Chas Stewart over at the Oklahoma Atheists blog for bringing this to my attention. Reading his post will be a good introduction to what I’ll be going over in detail tomorrow.

Part two of this series will focus on the history of Narconon in Oklahoma, starting in 1990 and up until today.

Part three will focus on what goes on inside the facility, including statements by former employees.

This time it isn’t even a blobsquatch

Posted: November 29, 2020 in cryptids

In the history of terrible Bigfoot pictures, this one is a doozy, but it comes from southeast Oklahoma so I’m going to cover it. Then I’m going to make fun of the person claiming it is evidence of anything at all.

The Bigfoot Evidence blog posted this image on Thanksgiving, probably because they didn’t take it seriously either and didn’t care that nobody would be paying attention to the story.

Here is the image they posted.

A perfectly nice picture of a cabin in the woods.

Since they, and the genius that sent this photo in, were both too lazy to actually zoom in on the section in question, I’ve taken the 12 seconds it took to do it for them.

Allegedly, there is a Bigfoot in that shot. Allegedly.

That anyone finds that even remotely compelling is hilarious. What is even more hilarious is that Bigfoot Evidence is apparently taking this seriously now. At first, they claimed they couldn’t see the hairy ape, but now they can tell it is there.

Once again, I must reiterate that with every adult person walking around today with a camera on their phone, the fact that this stuff is still being put forward as evidence is rather damning.

I’m seriously considering going out some weekend and taking a serious of random shots of the woods and seeing if I can pass some of them off to these guys as genuine blobsquatches.

No, it isn’t because she forgot to recite the Tea Party mantra or that she failed to recognize Reagan’s birthday.

Mary Fallin pissed of the Oklahoman when she turned down a FOIA request to get her emails regarding her decision to, and then decision not to create a state healthcare exchange.

Fallin claimed executive privilege, which is silly. Executive privilege only applies to the president, and even then it is only supposed to apply in cases that affect national security. I mean, Fallin may have doomed aspirations to the Whitehouse some day, but that isn’t going to happen.

H/T to The Lost Ogle for reporting on this and making me aware. I try not to read the Oklahoman.

Caleb Lack is a psych professor at UCO. One of his graduate classes has been doing videos on pseudoscience in Oklahoma.

Caleb is a really cool guy. He’s the kind of professor that makes me want to go back to school.

If you aren’t reading his blog, Great Plains Skeptic, you are screwing up.

Missing kangaroo AND and animal psychic

Posted: November 26, 2020 in media

Somehow, I missed this story when it broke on thanksgiving. Probably because I was drinking heavily and writing six blog posts to avoid having to be social.

So a family lost their pet kangaroo, Lucy Sparkles, last week, and now reports are coming in of people spotting it.

The family has even been contacted by a self-proclaimed pet psychic claiming to have been in contact with the animal. I’m torn between feeling bad for the family for having become a sideshow story in the news and wondering what kind of person would try to raise a kangaroo as a pet in Oklahoma.

The “Bring Lucy Sparkles Home” Facebook page is offering a $1000 reward.

It is deer season again, and that means trespassers and road hunters, but mainly it means poachers.

Sunday, on may way back to the metro on eastbound I-40, I spotted a familiar gun season sight.

For the last few years, the Oklahoma game wardens (that’s the guys that make sure hunters and fisherman are following the rules) have had a tactic for catching poachers I find particularly devious. They’ll set up a spotter on a bridge over one of the main interstate highways, along with several chasers at the next on ramp. If the spotter sees anyone with a deer, he’ll radio the chasers and they’ll pull that vehicle over to make sure the driver has the proper licensing. I have no idea how effective this is, but they’ve been doing it since at least 2007.

I’m also a big fan of the way they trap road hunters. The department has a number of trophy bucks that just happen to be decoys. They’ll lower and lift their massively antlered heads, and flick their tail and ears, but when you shoot them, you’ll suddenly find yourself surrounded by game wardens.

Outdoor Oklahoma had a great segment on it about a year ago.

So, if you decide to take a deer without a license, or see that trophy buck standing 50 yards off the side of the road, think twice.

Also, how badass do you have to be to sign up to be the only type of law enforcement officer where you are reasonably sure that every time you pull someone over there is a firearm in the vehicle?

Meet the Flintstones…

Posted: November 25, 2020 in Uncategorized

Recently, while I was wandering around the backwaters of Facebook, I came across this…

Photo courtesy of Justin English

Yes, that’s exactly what it looks like. It is a child riding a stegosaurus.

Why is a child riding a stegosaurus? Don’t you know? Humans and dinosaurs coexisted, and this is an entirely plausible depiction of what it was like approximately 6000 years ago.

How it happened 6000 years ago.

Now, I don’t believe any of that, but there is a small but vocal segment of the populace that does. Some of this group has apparently congregated in Woodward, Oklahoma, and they recently opened Woodward Christian Academy, a school dedicated to teaching children a Biblical (read anti-scientific) worldview. The school, or possibly one of its benefactors, also commissioned the domesticated stegosaurus, along with an infant stegosaurus, to be prominently displayed in the community.

Concept art for the sculpture.

For an indication of what this school is like, here is an example  from the school’s student handbook:

11. Books or magazines which are not part of the school library are not allowed unless
they have been authorized by the teacher(s) for book reports or other research work.
The teacher must review any reading material that is brought into the school before
a student is allowed to read it at WCA.

Because we can’t have children reading unapproved material…

The stegosaurus statues were built by the folks at Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum, which is only a museum to the extent that there are fossils there and the public is allowed to pay to see them. In actuality, it is the sad obsession of young earth creationist Joe Taylor, who apparently thinks that all of modern paleontology is either a bad joke or malicious conspiracy.

Joe Taylor creeping out his grandson.

For example, one of the “museum’s” most popular attractions is a replica of a nonexistent giant’s femur bone. This is what happens when you mix some skill in casting with silly metaphysical claims.

Notorious anti-evolution huckster Ken Ham also appeared at the school recently.

I weep for the future.

Fortunately, these people have a habit of eating their own. In the meantime, they are screwing up a generation of kids in Woodward.