Coffee critics’ cognitive collapse

By Phil Plait | November 29, 2007 4:54 pm

Heh. I found this post buried in my list of drafts. For some reason I didn’t post it when I wrote it months ago. It seems appropriate now given what happened in Texas, so enjoy.

A woman in Ohio has stopped drinking Starbucks (registration for that link may be required) because her takeout cup had a quotation on it that expressed a vague notion of possible agnosticism:

Printed on the cup was: “Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.”

It is attributed to Bill Schell, a Starbucks customer from London, Ontario, and was included on the cup as part of an effort by the company to collect different viewpoints and spur discussion.

“As someone who loves God, I was so offended by that. I don’t think there needs to be religious dialogue on it. I just want coffee,” said Incanno, a married mother of three who is Catholic.

That’s her right, of course, but I wonder out loud that her faith is so shaky that it is disturbed by a paper coffee cup. Be that as it may, where was she when Starbucks had this on a coffee cup?

Darwinism’s impact on traditional social values has not been as benign as its advocates would like us to believe. Despite the efforts of its modern defenders to distance themselves from its baleful social consequences, Darwinism’s connection with eugenics, abortion and racism is a matter of historical record, and the record is not pretty.” From Dr. Jonathan Wells, biologist and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design.

Yup, that Wells, a shill for The Discovery Institute who never gets within a glancing blow of reality. Starbucks says they put these quotations on cups just to air out various points of view. That’s fine, I suppose, up to the point where they spread sheer nonsense like that garbage from Wells (you need not imagine what PZ had to say when that cup came out). Even then, of course, that’s their right, but in today’s climate of public ignorance about science, publicizing quotations from the DI — which is populated with people who will lie outrageously and without hesitation to promote their religion — I wish they had a little more info on the cup.

And again, that woman from Ohio is free to buy or not buy whatever product she wants for whatever reason, just as Starbucks is free to print whatever it wants to on its cups. If Catholics boycott because of an atheist quotation, or atheists boycott because of a religious one, that’s the power of the pocketbook, and it’s a good one.

But everyone should be aware that Starbucks is, indeed, printing opposing views, so in that sense what they are doing is legit. I’ll note that not too long ago, a Starbucks cup featuring a quotation by Armistead Maupin about homophobia caused an uproar in Texas (well, Baylor University), too. I’ve seen both progressive and conservative quotations on Starbucks cups, though I’ll wait with bated breath for them to post an opinion from, say, David Duke or Charles Manson.

I’m sure glad I have my own pulpit here to talk about it. I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks — I drink it when I’m out of beans or in too big a hurry to make a cuppa joe myself — but something like this is hardly enough to make me avoid the place, or let it get me upset. Some folks really just need to switch to decaf.

After writing this, I found a long thread about it on In general, many Farkers are rude and immature — it’s a selling point! — but the respondents in this case have some interesting good things to say. And need I add? NSFW.


Comments are closed.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar