Bill Maher is an irrational douchebag
Best line: “You can’t be a rational person six days a week…and on one day of the week, go to a building, and think you’re drinking the blood of a two thousand year old space god.”
Maher: You know, I do love health as an issue. This is what I read about when I have time off.
Letterman: Are you interested in medical journals and that sort of thing?
Maher: Not western medicine, I think we’re being poisoned…I would love for you to investigate the possibility that your health issues might have arisen from the fact that you’re being poisoned by America.
Just to be clear here, Maher’s not talking about pollution here, he’s talking about pharmaceutical drugs. He’s a well known proponent of alternative medicine, and as Skeptico and Orac point out in the comments to PZ’s post, he denies the germ theory of disease, thinks vaccinations are poison and ineffectual, and is a proud supporter of PETA. That’s not exactly the resume one would expect from a rational, pro-science person.
It’s infuriating when a prominent rationalist like PZ approvingly cites Maher’s atheism or his takedown of the Troofers as a gain for rational thought in this country, because it’s abundantly clear that Maher himself isn’t a critical thinker. Sure some of the ends of his thought process align with the reality-based community, but the process itself is still tainted by magical thinking and outright lunacy.
Maher rightly views the evidence-free assertions of Christian supernaturalism as bullshit, yet amazingly can’t bring this skepticism to bear on non-Christian supernaturalism. This is because his views arise from mindless contrarianism, not critical examination of the evidence. He’s an atheist because everyone else is Christian, not because the evidence of a deity is lacking. Similarly, he’s an altie because most people use scientific medicine, not because he’s actually looked into the scientific validity of what he’s saying.
Since the “skeptic as mere contrarian” is a stereotype rationalists have been fighting for a while, it’s a shame that leading freethinkers continue to promulgate it by praising Bill Maher.