Is the world mad or am I?

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"Tampa woman who lost eight relatives in the attacks converts to Islam"

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  1. Is anyone here going to write concerning the controversy over ABC’s not-yet-aired 9/11 docu-drama? Monday’s going to be a bit too late, unless you’re going for the aftermath on Tuesday.

  2. I want to know how the heck someone happens to have an uncle and seven cousins all at one location for anything other than a family reunion.

  3. For me to be angry about what happened to the twin towers would be like me hating all the Germans that killed the Jews.?

    Um…that seems highly appropriate to me…

  4. And the horrible racist, intolerant, prejudiced, war-mongering, unilateral USA had her hung the next day.
    Oh wait, they only do that in Muslim countries.

  5. Yeah, I mean this could be a case of the ‘ol Stockholm syndrom.

  6. I looked for a bit online but I didn’t find anything showing conversion rates among American religions. I suppose that would be a tough study to do, but it would be interesting to see how many American Muslims convert to Christianity every decade. …how many Christians convert to Islam? …how many Jews convert to whatever?

    I understand there’s an ongoing discussion among Jews about whether being Jewish is more about culture and heritage or more about religion, etc., and it sounds like the subject of the article wasn’t particularly active at temple prior to 9/11.

    It wouldn’t surprise me too much if Americans who self-identify as Jewish and don’t attend services regularly are statistically more likely to break for Islam than Christianity. …upon becoming religious, that is. There are some social and cultural similarities.

    Still, I suspect we’d find very few former Orthodox Jews who have embraced Islam.

  7. Why is this remarkable? Law of avgs., folks.

  8. The article mentions an ‘Egyptian fiance’. My guess is he’s a wealthy Egyptian fiance. Nothing to see here, move along.

  9. I’m sure she’s perfectly sincere, but the article has a specific bent: “Muslims are people just like you and me! Why are all those hatemongers criticizing Muslims?” To make that point, find a non-Arab American who converted to Islam and do a feature article. That exempts you from the usual journalistic standards of fairness and balance. Instead of weighing the pros and cons of Muslim beliefs and practices, fill the article with stories about the poor convert as she encounters hasassment from the unenlightened.

  10. On the subject of the world being insane. G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, Chapter 7:

    “Well,” said the cigarette smoker slowly, “what do you think now?”

    “I think,” said Dr. Bull with precision, “that I am lying in bed at No. 217 Peabody Buildings, and that I shall soon wake up with a jump; or, if that’s not it, I think that I am sitting in a small cushioned cell in Hanwell, and that the doctor can’t make much of my case. But if you want to know what I don’t think, I’ll tell you. I don’t think what you think. I don’t think, and I never shall think, that the mass of ordinary men are a pack of dirty modern thinkers. No, sir, I’m a democrat, and I still don’t believe that Sunday could convert one average navvy or counter-jumper. No, I may be mad, but humanity isn’t.”

    […]

    “The world is insane!” said the Professor, and buried his face in his hands.

    “No,” said Dr. Bull in adamantine humility, “it is I.”

    “What are we going to do?” asked the Professor.
    “At this moment,” said Syme, with a scientific detachment, “I think we are going to smash into a lamppost.”

    The next instant the automobile had come with a catastrophic jar against an iron object. The instant after that four men had crawled out from under a chaos of metal, and a tall lean lamp-post that had stood up straight on the edge of the marine parade stood out, bent and twisted, like the branch of a broken tree.

    “Well, we smashed something,” said the Professor, with a faint smile. “That’s some comfort.”

    “You’re becoming an anarchist,” said Syme, dusting his clothes with his instinct of daintiness.

    “Everyone is,” said Ratcliffe.

  11. Living as I do, in a northern city, of decent enough size to have an Islamic center and several colleges and universities, it isn’t all that unusual to meet foreign visitors who are Muslims, foreign-born immigrants who are Muslim, American-born Muslims whose families were Muslims back in the “old country”, and Americans who have converted to Islam.

    In every case of the latter, meaning that I am personally acquainted with the convert, she was American-born, married to a fellow from a Muslim background.

    It’s just a data point – take it for what it is worth. If there is a similar phenomenon of Muslim guys converting to, let’s say, Catholicism, to please their new spouses, it probably isn’t as noticeable, due to the lack of a strict Catholic dress code.

    Kevin

  12. This articles appears to be fairly sympathetic to Muslims in America and what they are facing as a result of the actions of certain folks of their religion.

    Not a bad thing to be sympathetic. Probably not fair to equate simple practitioners of a faith with terrorists. Probably not fair to blame all Americans for the actions of their government and their pop stars but hey…who said life is fair?

    The sad fact though, is that for most westerners, the face of Islam is an intolerant and violent one. It’s hard for many westerners to look at the chaos and barbarism on display every night on t.v. and find anything positive to identify with.

  13. This is about as remarkable as someone taking up smoking after lung cancer killed eight of her relatives. Which is to say “not very”.

  14. Addendum to my previous post:

    I was leaving members of the “Nation of Islam” (Black Muslims) out of the discussion. None of my acquaintences has reported to me that they switched from some other (or no) religion to the NoI. I have met African-Americans affiliated with more traditional Muslim sects.

    For the life of me, I can’t understand any response to 9/11 that makes any more sense than “religion is is all bunk,” but I’ve felt that way years before.

    Kevin

  15. Damn. I fully expected her to be black and her eight (also) recently converted, formerly gang-banging relatives crushed in a Ground Zero jail cell. But alas, the stereotype did not hold true. I feel cheated somehow.


  16. For the life of me, I can’t understand any response to 9/11 that makes any more sense than “religion is is all bunk,” but I’ve felt that way years before.

    I can’t see how any response to a study of science or common sense would lead to anything other than the conclusion that religion is bunk but hey, we’re different than most people.

  17. I couldn’t help but notice that this woman cozies up to whatever religion she thinks can help her every time she’s destitute/unemployed. Opportunistic little lady, and I wouldn’t be surprised either if the fiance is loaded.

  18. Perhaps she thinks (erroneously) that they don’t kill their own.

  19. I can’t believe nobody made the joke that was so obvious I didn’t even include it in the original post:

    “Man, she must have really disliked her relatives!”

  20. I’m sorry I failed you, Tim.

    Hey! Perhaps it was her and not bin Laden that put Mo Atta et al up to it. Bush should have her secretly arrested, flown to Gitmo, and waterboarded till she confesses. Then he can break the news just before the coming midterm election.

  21. What the heck is a “Muslima”? The -a ending does not denote the feminine in Semitic languages (such as Arabic).

    So let me get this straight…she was raised in a nominally Catholic family, but decided that Judaism was the true faith, but not so much that she actually attended services. Then, she went to a synagogue looking for a handout, and they basically told her to get lost.

    Back when I worked at an inner-city Catholic parish, I dealt with a lot of “devout Christians” showing up at our door, claiming to be down on their luck. I gave them information on places where they would be provided food and shelter, but they didn’t seem interested in anything but cash. Of course, I couldn’t give them that, so who knows how many of them converted to Islam in disgust. Especially if the local imam stocked their fridge and paid their rent and utilities as a reward for converting.

  22. Of all the implausible assertions that the reporter apparently didn’t check, the one that’s sticking out in my mind is that her daughter (in the left on the second picture in the article) is 10. She’s bigger than her mom for heaven’s sake!

  23. And the horrible racist, intolerant, prejudiced, war-mongering, unilateral USA had her hung the next day.
    Oh wait, they only do that in Muslim countries.

    lol!

    I wonder what her Egyptian coreligionists would have done to her fiance had he converted to Judaism? It probably would have been a bit more disagreeable than staring.

  24. I can’t see how any response to a study of science or common sense would lead to anything other than the conclusion that religion is bunk but hey, we’re different than most people.

    Much as I’d hate to start another religion vs. science battle, I must point out that where science and religion do not deal with the same matters, a study of one can hardly disprove the other. While science is a marvelous tool for understanding the vast majority of the happenings in the universe, there are important questions that are beyond its scope.

  25. Maybe Islam could soften its death-to-apostasy rule to : you get off provided you simultaneously convert somebody else to Islam.

  26. In re: American’s perception of Islam as an intolerant religion, I have an interesting exercise to suggest for those who have the time and inclination.
    Buy yourself a cheap copy of the Koran and a high liter pen. Open the book randomly and read 1000 word passages. Do this 7 or 8 times. Hi-lite any passages in which the Koran commands the faithful to kill for religious reasons. (Such as leaving the faith, killing infidels because they are infidels, etc.) Keep in mind that in many Muslim countries, this exercise would get you killed for blasphemy. If you have a Muslim neighbor or friend, (I have four. All are psychiatrists. I work at a state mental hospital.), don’t tell them you are doing this exercise, as it would probably alienate them.

    Now repeat this exercise with other religious books of your choice. The Bible, perhaps the Upanishds, whatever.

    Now compare the amount of hi-lited material in the various samples. Draw your own conclusions.

  27. Islam, like all religions, is a super-replicator. As one of the newer of the “old” religions, it has more hooks than the rest and more barbs as well. That is, it has more expected means of compelling and coercing evangelism and conversion than the older religions, and more punishment for apostates.

    One of the conversion methods is the practice of insisting that fiances convert to Islam as a condition of marriage. All religions have this to some degree, but it varies with the orthodoxy of the practicing family involved. This is just another trivial example of a woman marrying a man whose family is more orthodox than hers and is of another religion.

    The only interesting things are that she became involved with an orthodox Muslim in the first place and that she has been eased into Islam in such a way that she has not yet become familiar with the passages of the Koran that arguably justify the atrocities of 9/11.

  28. crimethink wrote:

    Much as I’d hate to start another religion vs. science battle, I must point out that where science and religion do not deal with the same matters, a study of one can hardly disprove the other. While science is a marvelous tool for understanding the vast majority of the happenings in the universe, there are important questions that are beyond its scope.

    I don’t think that this battle is usually initiated by science exceeding its scope. Not trying to point fingers, but the very nature of religion is that it regularly tread well into the scope of science. Unfortunately, it does this with the same dogmatic assurance that it does on matters on which religions have unique authority. Science doesn’t like that, so it gets mad.

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Science.

  29. Actually, Rimfax, scientists regularly use their positions and authority to exceed the scope of science.

    Science can say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about what we should do. It can only assign various probabilities to the consequences of our actions. A scientist, as a person, can obviously advocate a course of action. A scientist as a scientist cannot. Yet scientists often try to use their credentials to influence policy debates about moral, not technical issues.

    For example, a scientist could rightfully confront a global warming denier with reams of data, and demonstrate that the denier is full of baloney. This is what the scientist’s role is.

    However, if the scientist tries argue that we SHOULD raise CAFE standards, tax C02, etc, his opinion is no more valid than that of any other informed person. This is a moral judgement, not a technical one.

  30. Actually, Rimfax, scientists regularly use their positions and authority to exceed the scope of science.

    Science can say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about what we should do. It can only assign various probabilities to the consequences of our actions. A scientist, as a person, can obviously advocate a course of action. A scientist as a scientist cannot. Yet scientists often try to use their credentials to influence policy debates about moral, not technical issues.

    For example, a scientist could rightfully confront a global warming denier with reams of data, and demonstrate that the denier is full of baloney. This is what the scientist’s role is.

    However, if the scientist tries argue that we SHOULD raise CAFE standards, tax C02, etc, his opinion is no more valid than that of any other informed person. This is a moral judgement, not a technical one.

  31. Why is it that several posters think her fiance had something to do with her converting to Islam? There’s nothing in the article that mentions her getting engaged before she decided to convert.

  32. What the heck is a “Muslima”? The -a ending does not denote the feminine in Semitic languages (such as Arabic).

    I don’t know about other semetic languages, but in Arabic it does. Depending on the dialect the ending can sound more like -eh.

  33. Much as I’d hate to start another religion vs. science battle, I must point out that where science and religion do not deal with the same matters, a study of one can hardly disprove the other. While science is a marvelous tool for understanding the vast majority of the happenings in the universe, there are important questions that are beyond its scope.

    Nonsense, they deal with the exact same questions. Who are we? Where did we come from? How does the universe work?

    Theologians and scientists have been wrestling with the same questions for thousands of years, its just the methods are different.

    Putting science and religion in seperate corners is people pleasing PC bullshit.

  34. Who are we?

    It depends on what you mean by the question. If you mean the purely physical manifestations of a person’s body and brain activity, yes, science is going to be able to access those inquiries. But science cannot show that that is all there is to a person. It may be easy to write off everyone else’s existence as an illusion produced by their neural network, but how does one explain one’s own experience of consciousness in a scientifically demonstrable way?

    Where did we come from?

    Again, this can be explained scientifically up to a point; we can roll back the clock further and further, perhaps even past the Big Bang; but there is no way to find a scientifically accessible beginning event that explains everything while needing no explanation for itself. And yes, I’m aware that David Hume’s attacks on causality undermine the First Cause proof of God’s existence, but they undermine scientific investigation even more, as science could not be imagined without a reliable sense of cause and effect. In any case, something must exist at the beginning of our universe that defies scientific investigation.

    How does the universe work?

    On this one I would agree that science is the way to go.

  35. What the heck is a “Muslima”? The -a ending does not denote the feminine in Semitic languages (such as Arabic).

    It does in Arabic, and in Hebrew too. (Usually spelled with an h -ah).

  36. that should be spelled with an “-h” as in “-ah” (and in dialects sometimes pronounced more like eh or eeh.)

  37. As noted before “Muslima” is the feminine form of Muslim in Arabic.

    In Islam, men are permitted to marry “children of the book,” so marrying her if she was Jewish is permitted. Marrying Christian women is permitted as well. However, since the religion is passed patrilineally, Muslim women can only marry Muslim men, to ensure that future generations are Muslim.

  38. Crimethink,

    Yes it does. It’s the “taa marbuta,” the arabic letter normally pronounced “T” with its ends connected. It’s pronounced “a” unless it’s followed by a short vowel, in which case it’s pronounced “at.” Hence “asima” means Capital, and “asimat misr” means “the capital of Egypt.”

  39. All right, all right!

    I didn’t remember that from my abortive study of Hebrew many years ago, so I thought it was just a cute invention of the writer, like most of the other stuff in the article. I’ll promise to stick something non-organic into a random orifice of my body if it will make you guys feel better.

  40. All religions have this [fiance conversion requirement] to some degree.. – Rimfax

    In most sects of Christianity, at least in modern times, this has become more of a suggestion than a requirement. Even the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church, while discouraging interfaith marriages, allowed them if the engaged couple promised to bring up any children they had “in the faith.” You had a quiet ceremony in the rectory, not the full-out version in the church sanctuary, and there was always pressure to convert, but “mixed marriages” in this manner were preferred to the couple running to the other side of town and getting “married” by a judge or some heretic. [ 🙂 ] Post-Vatican II, you can get the big wedding, too.

    As for the hiliter test, Christians shouldn’t have to be held to the bright yellow segments in the Old Testament, just like they don’t have to keep kosher. There’s the New Dispensation, after all. Now, that doesn’t mean that some of them don’t selectively embrace their favorite bloody OT passages.

    If we are going for “least violent religion”, there are better candidates – some of the branches of Buddhism, frex.

    I think if you check your history, people joining a new religion because becoming one of its practitioners may hold some economic benefit is a much more popular behavior than some missionairies would be willing to admit.

    Kevin
    (neutral apostate)

  41. It depends on what you mean by the question. If you mean the purely physical manifestations of a person’s body and brain activity, yes, science is going to be able to access those inquiries. But science cannot show that that is all there is to a person. It may be easy to write off everyone else’s existence as an illusion produced by their neural network, but how does one explain one’s own experience of consciousness in a scientifically demonstrable way?

    Just because science can’t explain something doesn’t mean religion, which is based on no evidence and demonstrates nothing, can.

  42. Science can say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about what we should do…Yet scientists often try to use their credentials to influence policy debates about moral, not technical issues.

    Pretty detached view of science, I’d say there, Chad. But of course they can – even as scientists (as opposed to “as a person.”).

    Science not only seeks to understand cause but also effect. An underpinning of the need for mathematics in science is to create models which tend to predict outcomes based on data.

    To use your CAFE standard example, depending on the goal, a scientist is in a much better position than a mere “informed person” to weigh in on whether or not raising CAFE standards or taxing CO2 may or may not bring about the desired effect.

    I would argue that the very existence of CAFE Standards and Taxing CO2 comes from politicians’ (sometimes flawed or incomplete) understanding of science as an attempt to provide a rational basis for public policy arguments.

    So if politicians can use their interperetation of science to base their public policy decisions, why can’t scientist use their knowledge as scientists to influence those same policy debates.

    Frankly, I’d trust most scientists over most politicians most days of the week – especially as regard public policy.

  43. Given that I am a scientist myself, I am glad you trust me more than a politician! That’s saying a lot…I think…

    A scientist has no more status in a political debate than any other informed person, for two reasons. First is that any serious political issue requires the inputs of numerous fields of study and thousands of scientists and engineers. Taking CAFE standards as an example, one would need to have the input of numerous automobile engineers and businessmen, climate and environmental scientists, health scientists, and economists to even approximate an answer to the fundamental question of what would happen if we changed CAFE standards. Given that, any individual expert is only an expert over a tiny fraction of a percent of the required information, and presumably no more than an informed layman about the rest. There is little difference between 99.9% informed layman and 100%. Second, even given that we can get a good answer to the previous question, a scientist has no reason at all to claim any superior judgement about which CAFE standard is better or moral. That is a subjective moral judgement outside the scope of science.

  44. Be of good courage, Tim -sanity is somewhat comparitive , and you have to go toe to toe with this :
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Utilities/printer_preview.asp?idArticle=12655&R=EDE634BF

  45. What the heck is a “Muslima”? The -a ending does not denote the feminine in Semitic languages (such as Arabic).

    The Arabic feminine marker is actually “ah”. So, a woman “Muslim” is “Muslimah”. The “h” sound at the end is not emphasized, so it is often dropped in English. For example, “aisha” is actually pronounced as “aishah” in Arabic.

  46. Does that make a female IslamoFascist from Spanish Sahara a Sandinistah ?

  47. i wouldn’t, madpad. scientists are kinda like surgeons, judges, etc. they think they are Godlike ™ and that their narrow expertise (if that) leads them to the Grand Revealed Truth ™ in all matters

    science, politics, and religion constantly intersect. and scientists tend to (regardless of whether they are left or right wing) TOO OFTEN let their political prejudices inform their science- see: larry summers brouhaha for instance.

    scientific funding and studies are incredibly politically motivated (look at how the AMA etc. act as shills for pharma companies, for instance)

    the idea that scientists are some sort of impartial truth-seekers is absurd. SCIENTISTS are people. and you can’t practice SCIENCE without infecting it with PEOPLE’s prejudices, biases, etc.

    the study of science is at least as suspect as the study of religion, since both institutions depend on PEOPLE to “do ” them.

    scientists lie, fudge data, etc. just like politicians. see: mead, for instance.

    scientists with POWER (which most scientists don’t have much of) are at LEAST as scary as politicians. it’s the power that corrupts. it corrupts scientists or religious men.

  48. Chad & Whit,

    You both make very good points.

    Regarding Chad’s statement: a scientist has no reason at all to claim any superior judgement about which CAFE standard is better or moral.

    My assertion is only that a scientist is often better qualified to weigh in on whether or not the public policy position might achieve the desired effect. “Better” is a subjective. “Moral” is for Conservatives and Liberals to beat each other up over.

  49. Both Natural Philosophy (science) and Theology (religion) are subsets of the larger category of Philosophy. Ethics is the branch you want for deciding what to do, while Science will help you figure out how to do many things. Politics is a subset of Ethics.

    I consider Theology to be a philosophical dead end, in any case. Knowing about it helps in thinking about psychology and sociology, but it doesn’t have any truth value qua itself.

    Kevin

  50. What would we think of someone who, upon hearing that an American converted to Judaism, responded by pontificating about the horrible things done by “Jewish governments?”

    Give me one good reason not to draw a similar conclusion about those whose response to this story is to comment on the governments of Muslim countries.

  51. Uh…maybe because the newsworthy point was that she became a Muslim after 8 relatives were killed in Muslim terrorist attacks against this country backed by political movements in Muslim countries?

    Sorry, joe…you and I often agree. But this time your moral indignation quotient needs recalibration.

  52. She found Islam in 2005 on the third day of a Moroccan vacation.

    The only thing I ever find on vacation is loose change in hotel rooms.

  53. “While science is a marvelous tool for understanding the vast majority of the happenings in the universe, there are important questions that are beyond its scope.”

    Like what? What couldn’t investigate?

  54. As noted before “Muslima” is the feminine form of Muslim in Arabic.

    OK, but not in English, generally speaking. Would the paper have really called her a “Jewess” back when she was claiming to be Jewish? It just seems like an odd choice.

  55. Stupendous Man,

    A question, regarding which no falsifiable hypotheses can be offered, would not be accessible to scientific investigation. For instance, any hypothesis purporting to explain what, if anything, one experiences during (and after) death, cannot possibly be falsified in an experiment. True, one could analyze the physical status of a dying person before, during, and after, but analyzing the experience of the conscious person would require a wholly different approach.

  56. “I can’t see how any response to a study of science or common sense would lead to anything other than the conclusion that religion is bunk”

    …tell me more about your common sense 101 class, and how many were in it.

    Maybe you should have read some psychology, history, philosophy as well – and, maybe after that, about some actual religions…maybe things would be clearer then.

    idiots hold an equal share of every class of mankind. I hope that was in your CS 101 as well.

    JG

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