08 September 2007

Morality, Religion and the McCanns.

Does faith help you become a better liar?

If, as seems increasingly likely, the McCanns did kill their daughter (sleeping tablets?), how did they find the strength to lie to so many people in such a forthright unashamed way?....

They easily fooled the Pope, David Beckham, the British media, and hence the British public (though not the German media). They were accomplished at continuing their ruse and popularity even when the facts pointed to them being dodgy parents at the least (who leaves a 3 year old alone in an unlocked flat for an entire evening while on holiday?)

So successful have the McCanns been that, as Tygerland points out, even reasonable requests at questioning their behaviour is batted away as heresy (just like we fail to hold religion in general to account).

Did their (very public) religious belief help them in their need to lie, or worse is their religious belief just a sham to help bolster their public image? - something they have probably used many times (as many charlatans do) to great effect throughout their life to increase their status and fool those around them.

Their middle class occupational status certainly helped them to avoid scrutiny and suspicion, perhaps as much as their religion.

New Scientist has recently explored the evidence on morality and religion. Its conclusions are that church going intrinsic religious people (those who truly do believe there 'might' be a god and attend church as an end in itself) are more likely to be moral than the average, also are more likely to give to charity, help others etc. Those however, who are church going extrinsic religious people (who attend Church for social reasons or to improve their status in society) are not surprisingly, less likely to help others and are less moral than the average. The data unfortunately did not compare directly with openly atheist people (whom I suspect would also be more moral than the average). I would also have liked to have seen the data on what proportion of church goers are intrinsic and extrinsic and how was this decided. What category I wonder are the McCanns to be placed in?


  1. This is a pretty nauseating post Neil. You should be ashamed of yourself. I have no idea whether the Mccanns killed their daughter and neither do you. What does seem clear is that the police have run out of leads so have gone back to the parents, in the hope that aggressive questioning might lead to an admission. We shall see.

    You are correct that the McCann's have been given an easier ride in the British press than say an unarticulate working class couple might have been given, where undoubtedly there would have been much negative attention directed to their going out and leaving their children. But that's the crapulous British press for you. It's hardly the McCann's fault. And I don't think it is particularly because of their Catholicism but because they are photogenic white folk. Why should they not use their religion to comfort themselves in a situation such as this?

    Of course if it does turn out to be the case that they killed their daughter and invented the abduction tale to throw suspicion off themselves then the reaction of the press and public is going to be pretty nasty. If that happens I think I'll take a six month sabbatical on Guam to raise penguins with Bob Dole as the breastbeating and villification is going to shrill and very unpleasant to watch.

    But how about we wait until there's some evidence to support your libellious conjectures, and they have been tried and convicted, eh, Neil.

  2. I've suspected right from the start that they did it but I have waited until they were suspects to voice my opinion. Their story seemed very unlikely (their friends patchy sightings were vague and the police said at the start that the McCanns 'accidently' destroyed evidence) and the way they were acting in the media didn't seem right either. The way Gerry took control of the media and seemed more interested in building a fund raising business surrounding the whole affair rather than actually trying to find her. I suppose what we really need to do is to find the body.

    As for libellous, are we not allowed to even ask the question as to whether the McCanns did it? Now they are suspects the police are doing just that.

    It seems to me that the Portuguese police got wrapped up in their story as well and gave them an easy time. In fact I am sure in England, the police would have got round to questioning them as suspects far sooner.

  3. Neil, a very brave post. You might turn out to be right, you might be horribly, libellously wrong.

    Everybody knows that there is something really fishy about this, but quite what, nobody knows.

  4. Neil your attacks on religion, even to fellow atheist, would have more credibility if wasn't for your refusal to stand by your own beliefs in raltion to Tony Blair.

    If this family had been leading Labour politicians, why do I feel you'd have been much more forgiving?

    In any case, I think you are drawing crazy conclusions on virtually no evidence.....oh hnag on, that's what you do best, innit?

  5. People say Tony Blair is responsible for deaths in Iraq. I disagree, the evidence that the McCanns are responsible for their daughters death seems a little stronger.

  6. Neil as you well know, I was referring to your post when you said that anyone who believes in religion is either stupid or lying - and I simply asked which one Tony Blair was - to which I haven't had a straight answer.

    As for the McCanns, - just more names to be added to your despicable list of the guilty until proven innocent brave new world or Neilism

  7. urko: I don't know whether the McCanns did it - perhaps they didn't. But now they are official suspects, I wanted to point out my suspicions and the easy ride they have got from the media and perhaps initially from the police.


    Their negligence in leaving their children in an unlocked ground floor appartment. The strange fact that their children slept through the whole commotion of the 'search for Madeleine'. The fact that crucial evidence was contaminated, floors cleaned etc. Why an immediate claim of abduction 'they've taken her' when Madeleine might well of just wondered off on her own accord? It all points to something fishy. Am I not allowed to say this. It's not as if my little blog is going to influence the decision of a Portuguese jury who will be presented with all the known evidence.

    The facts may now never be known in this case because the police were too quick to believe the McCann's version. I hope I am wrong and Madeleine is found safe and well, and of course what I write here is speculation but surely it needs to be said by someone.

  8. ..... but surely it needs to be said by someone.


  9. The strange fact that their children slept through the whole commotion of the 'search for Madeleine'

    And you know this how?

    Were you there?

    Almost all of your "facts" are speculation and conjecture. It is hilarious to watch you back-pedaling from your outrageous tabloid style post now.

    You should have left this alone. You are adding nothing.

    Still no straight answer on Tony Blair I see, why not have the courage of your stated conviction and answer - is he a liar or stupid?

  10. Tony Blair is a liar - a liar to himself. From his support of abortion and contraception I can tell his belief is pretty thin despite his apparent church going and praying.

    What I know about the McCanns I have pieced together from different reports. It is what we bloggers do on any news story - if we didn't we wouldn't write anything about anything.

  11. Tony Blair is a liar - a liar to himself. From his support of abortion and contraception I can tell his belief is pretty thin despite his apparent church going and praying.

    It's amazing how much you can "tell" from the slenderest of threads, Neil. You must be so much smarter than any of the rest of us.

    You might be interested to know the following:

    1. The official policy of the Roman Catholic church is that both contraception and abortion are sinful. It views contraception as a question for the adults involved, but abortion as a matter for legislation - it views killing an unborn infant as, more or less, murder.

    1b. Most discussions of contraception in the political context are usually in connection with (unmarried) teenage girls, and preventing pregnancy and motherhood from derailing their education. Sex outside a Christian marriage is also rather frowned upon by the Church. Next time I see a Roman priest, I shall have to ask him if his church has an official line on the use of contraception by unmarried non-Christians.

    2. Mrs Blair is a Roman Catholic. Despite his flirtations with Rome, Mr Blair remains a member of the Church of England.

    3. The Church of England is entirely happy with contraception. There is no contradiction in Mr Blair's Christian faith and his support for contraception (although if he uses it himself, he'll be getting Mrs Blair in trouble with the Pope...:-)

    4. The Church of England's consensus opinion is that abortion is only permissible under strictly limited conditions (basically if the mother is pretty certain to die if the abortion doesn't happen). This is only a consensus opinion, though - there is no magisterium, and there are certainly plenty of people in the C of E who are rather more permissive towards abortion. Mr Blair's publicly expressed opinions on abortion could be summarised as "I wish it didn't happen, but back-street abortions with knitting needles and throwing vulnerable young women in jail isn't a good solution". The Pope wouldn't like that argument, but I find nothing unChristian in it.

  12. Hi. I'm anon here because I can't be bothered with all the signing in gallimaufry. Not because I'm frightened of putting up an ID.

    If you were wrong in what you say, Neil, it would be up to anyone to put you down, based on your misreading of the evidence, if that misreading could be established.

    But on this analysis, you are spot on, M8. I said to my wife at the beginning of this affair, that I couldn't understand it: there was no set of facts that made sense of the whole issue, except ... several unusual circumstances which in combination created a bizarre scenario which could still unravel in an unexpected way.

    To me the unusual circumstances were that the McCanns seemed to be admired beyond any normal standard: they could do no wrong. Note their child care arrangements. Note too that when they refer to their daughter, she was lovely, she was beautiful, but she was not beloved - that didn't seem to come out.

    If I am right in believing that there were several important questions that the McCanns refused to answer, that makes the task of
    making mincemeat of their critics very difficult.

    Yes, M8, you are spot on about the McCanns.

    But as to intrinsic and extrinsic religiosi, can't you see that Blair was blatantly prepared to kill innocent Iraqis, Brits, and anyone else who got in the way of his crusade to rid the world of SELECTED dictators?

    Sui generis.

  13. anon: 'admired beyond any normal standard' - that sums it up for me - well said.

    By talking about religion I was trying to get at how the McCanns managed to get such support despite their very dodgy actions and flimsy story. It also had something to do with their professional status, being photogenic and white but they certainly milked their religion.

    Like you, I suspected the way they were acting and their overplay of their religion, just seemed so false. Clearly 'extrinsic' to bolster their status. Anybody who pretends to be this devout raises my suspicions and that includes Tony Blair as well. While he may be indirectly responsible for some deaths in Iraq, I feel his intentions were to do good. I don't think the McCanns tranquilising their baby can be put in the same category, they clearly are directly responsible for their daughter's death in they did this. And the way they have tried to cover it up - I feel only someone who can conjure up a huge well of delusion - the sort of delusion needed to be a devout believer, could pull off this level of deception.

  14. I'm anon. I spent a lot of time warning that the second Iraq War would be a disaster, and I'm not wrong.

    I'm glad we see eye to eye on the McCann case, Stephen, even though I still don't understand it.

    Your definition of intrinsic and extrinsic religious observance hit a nerve: I've seen examples close to home.

    You get the feeling that the family are damned. Rather than say it's their own fault, I think the rules of Greek tragedy are going to come into play, they could be destroyed.

  15. Neil: I suspected something was not right from the outset. After 35 years in prison, you get attuned to those claiming innocence. I did not accept the guilt of the Birmingham 6, Guildford 4 and Maguire 7, in spite of the court verdicts. I watched them and listened and formed my own conclusion long before their appeals which finally acquitted them.

    Personally, I leave the morals and religion out of the equation. My latest post is based purely on the legal stuff. And, is a work in progress. Gerry McCann has thrown out the challenge "find the body and prove us guilty". We don't need to old chap.

    "Madeleine: Why Gerry and Kate McCann should be charged

    Madeleine lay dead. Gerry and Kate McCann enter into a joint enterprise, a conspiracy, to dispose of Madeleine's body. They outwardly calmly go out and socialise with their friends for drinks, a meal and a quiz at the Tapas Bar at 8.30pm on 3rd of May 2007. To allay suspicion, they employ a smokescreen, that is, at 10pm Kate McCann goes to check on the children and returns to the Tapas Bar claiming that Madeleine has been abducted. The police are called and Gerry and Kate McCann make false statements in an attempt to explain away the disappearance of 3 year old Madeleine.

    What crimes have been committed so far?
    1. Unlawful killing;
    2. Unlawfully administering drugs to minors;
    3. Conspiracy;
    4. Robbing the coroner of a body;
    5. Wasting police time;
    6. Perverting the course of justice.

    We can add to this list number 7, the fraud and deception with the setting up of the findmadeleinefund.

    Update: I forgot to add child neglect and/or child abandonment to the list".

    I do like a challenge. I have witnessed prisoners who believed their own publicity come unstuck.

    When the facts are laid out, the rest doesn't matter. The McCanns claimed that Madeleine was abducted. The evidence does not support that claim. They needed an excuse to explain her disappearance. She had to disappear to protect their reputations and to keep their twins from being taken by the social services. They had nothing to lose by going for it.

    I predict that they have lost the gamble. No PR guru is going to untarnish their reputations.

  16. Well, Neil, despite your stupidity on the smoking-ban thread, given that you posted this over a week ago, I must repeat it was brave (albeit stupid) and I must admit, it is increasingly unlikely that it was libellous at all!

    Do you spend half your time being completely right and half of it being completely wrong?

    JHL, he knoweth of what he speaks.