SocraticGadfly: 11/30/14 - 12/7/14

December 06, 2014

#Mysticism, refudiated

Massimo Pigliucci has a guest poster at his new philosophy webzine site, commenting about mysticism in general, and Karen Armstrong's brand of it in general. (I think it's fair to call her a mystic of some sort.)

First, I agree with Massimo (which essayist Daniel Linford didn't so bluntly state) that Armstrong is fluff. But, because she makes Islam look halfway New Agey, she gets respect, or Respect. (And, she's a TED Prize winner, so! So what? The E in TED stands for Entertainment, let's not forget.)

But, she has Grounds for Respect.

Because capitalizing letters for phrases like Ground of Being is of course how you prove mystic claims.

Speaking of, the piece has brought said mystic provers out of the woodwork. Most of them (if they'd actually read and learn) could stand a good dose of Wittgenstein on private languages. They could also stand a moderate dose of Hume coupled with knowledge of the naturalistic, biochemical cause of brain states that exactly parallel "mystical experiences." Hume comes in with the good old is-ought distinction. Just because we evolved agency imputers in our mental makeup that sometimes run wild doesn't mean that they ought to run wild.

This is primarily drawn from my last comment there.

The “mystic experience” is just brain activity. It’s that humans, with a fuller sense of self, in part, and the evolution of attribution of agency as part of that, read into this brain chemistry things that other animals don’t.

On my last comment, I told Mario that Siberians’ reindeer eat the magic mushrooms just like the shamans do.

Why? Presumably, they’re having the same brain experience, and tripping out, in just the same way the shamans are.

But, because they don’t have the same sense of self or the attribution of agency to things, they don’t interpret this as a mystic experience or contact with the Divine or the Ground of Reindeer Being.

They just experience it, then eat some more shrooms. Period.

To wrap this up, let’s go back to the early master of human nature (what a shame he didn’t live post-Darwin), Hume.

This is a classic is-ought, in my opinion.

Just because we evolved these agency-imputing mechanisms is no reason to keep using them today. There’s no mystic entity behind the rustling mental grass waiting to mystically enlighten you, to riff on an old illustration.

Or, again, per earlier comment and Daniel’s theme (which has indeed been addressed by non-mystics), Your Mysticism Is Too Egocentric.

Wm. Burgess believes that atheists haven't rejected belief in his kind of god. He also comes very much from the school of Capitalizing Various Things to Make Them Sound Mystical and Ineffable.

To him, I replied: It sounds to me like you’re either not listening to atheists carefully enough, or reading or meeting enough of them, or to riff on Coel’s article about religious and secular liberties, you’re demanding a laundry list, into which you’ll insert your own version of a “pantheism of the gaps.”

So, if you want it said directly, I for one don’t accept your version of god either. Beyond that, I addressed the use of capitalized nouns in my first post, so I already said I didn’t believe in that version of God/Ground of Being/Dust of Being/Quarks of Being/Higgs Bosons of Being or anything like it. Nor do I believe in the Sacred/Divine/Ineffable/Noumena/Logos/Atman/Wholly Other or any other capitalized Essence that I my have missed.

Or Process/Action/Motion/Movement or any other capitalized Verb or Gerund that I may have missed.

Or Love/Hope/Orgiasticness (thanks, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Diogenes) or any capitalized Abstract Noun I may have missed.

More generally, English isn’t German, and it certainly isn’t German run through the filter of Heidegger. Capitalizing a word proves nothing.

And, lest we get a mystic via negativa popping up, capitalizing a word doesn’t prove Nothing, either.

Michael Ahles along with Fred Eaker are the two mystics who, as I put it my second comment, insist on using a private language to describe (their own?) mystical experience while insisting that the rest of us agree that this is actually a public language and we accept its terms. Ahles goes beyond that to accuse some of not listening well enough, to which I replied: “Private ears” or “selective deafness” fall under the rubric of private languages. Already asked and answered.

Beyond that, they and others refuse to answer basic questions, rhetorically posted. (Yet, Fred can accuse me of missing his point, when my rhetorical questions below are addressed exactly to his point.)

First, how do you know a mystic experience isn’t a hallucination? Or mental illness? Or a brain illness? Or a brain condition from some other illness? Or a brain trauma? (Directly to Fred, I also asked how does he tell true from false mystics, and since he's tripping on Hinduism, specifically mentioned Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Ram Dass.)

Answers to the above? Respectively, peyote and LSD, schizophrenia, temporal lobe epilepsy, the hypoxia often associated with near death experiences, or brain traumas along the general lines of Phineas Gage’s, can all cause all the symptoms and perceptions you think prove your mystical experience is “real.”

Back to the private languages issue, because it connects with a "superior knowledge" issue, and there's nothing new here, either.

It goes back to the Christian New Testament, after all. And Gnosticism, whether Christian, Jewish or Pagan.

Even in the Christian Bible, it’s there.
Hebrews 5:13-14
For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
And 1 Corinthians 3:2
I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
Nothing new under the sun, including claims of special enlightenment by “transcendent” means.

Tom Dobrzeniecki seems to think that Gödel and his ideas on incompleteness mean that atheism is just as much a leap of faith as theism. Another old chestnut from some theists, not just mystics. To him, I replied: If you see Gödel implying that methodological naturalism is “incomplete,” well, we could all become Pyrrhonic Skeptics and say almost everything of significance in life is a leap of faith, I guess.

Of course, this ties back to the private languages issue. If any serious event is considered a “leap of faith,” then private languages abound!

Bottom line is that mysticism, like the belief that UFOs are visiting little old me, even though Planet Earth in general, and little old you in particular, have nothing to teach a possible alien life form of that level of intelligence?

Bottom line is that there's a lot of egocentricity and grandiosity in a lot of mysticism.

That said, part of what was discussed applies to good old conservative Christians like Christian apologist Alvin Plantinga.

The "transcendence" of the mystic walks hand in hand with the "inscrutability" of the conservative, and both of them are usually trying to tap dance around Ye Olde Problem of Evil.

Riffing on the old Problem of Evil, I call it the Problem of Psychological Evil and have blogged about this before. Any deity, or any Ground of Being, sufficiently powerful to make him/her/itself comprehensible to sentient creatures, but refusing to do so, creates Psychological Evil.

That said, of course, this isn’t just related to transcendence of the extreme Armstrong sort. I crafted it in response to the traditional conservative theologians like Plantinga who refer to Paul’s quote of Job about god’s inscrutability. Daniel kind of picks up on that in his footnote 12 area, but is pretty much only referring to the Armstrong-type mystic, not the traditional conservative Christian like Plantinga. But, in various ways, it applies to both.

Romans 11:33-34
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
Otherwise, any type of theology, or general belief, is also partially subject to the same critique.

The ineffability of the god of the mystics is the same as the inscrutability of the god of the traditional omnipotent monotheists. With both groups at times, and especially and often with the latter, it's an attempt to avoid Ye Olde Problem of Evil. And, it fails.

I've blogged at my secondary blog how this ultimately falls prey to the Problem of Psychological Evil, discussed in a bit more detail here.

December 05, 2014

The New Republic is on life support? Good. #TNR is trash

Really, TNR died long ago.

It died when Marty Peretz inflicted his ultra-Zionism, plus his racism, on the journal. That's why, contra this former intern's claim, it's far, far away from "heterodox liberalism." Hell, Vox isn't the first place to halfway note that, as I blogged a few years back. Well, if you're on the Council for Foreign Relations, it's probably flat-out liberalism.

And, Mr. Greenberg, if it's impolite for me to email you calling Marty Peretz a racist? If you'd had a Twitter account, I would have done it more publicly, so consider yourself lucky.

And, if I had wanted to be impolite, I would have called Peretz a fucking racist, not just a racist.

Besides, The Nation publicly called you out. So did Gawker (insert irony, since new TNR owner Chris Hughes wants a new Gawker or something), but with more snark.

But, back to TNR's nearly 40 years of history being owned by ... a racist.

Instead, it had a nearly 40-year history of racism, racism fueled in part by a particular version of ultra-Zionism that is part of why some blacks have long been less than fully trusting of all Jews. Sorry, but I went there.

And, for Jews, especially with some degree of Zionism, to stay on, and to stay on not just through Peretz's craptacular management in general, but his racism, well ... it's no wonder that a lot of black journalists like Ta-Nehisi Coates feel little sadness for your loss.

Hell, I wouldn't blame them if they had a shade or two of schadenfreude. It would be well-deserved.

That said, back to the racism.

It's racism that was only further fueled when Andrew Sullivan (anybody calls him a liberal, I'll kick you in the nads) devoted a full issue of the magazine to singing a paean to Charles Murray's and Richard Herrnstein's love song to racialism, "The Bell Curve," a move that inspired my bit of Photoshopping at left. And a bit of punditry about that Photoshopping.

Dylan Byars at Politico has the inside-the-Beltway mourning for the mag, which is cutting its print issues in half, looking to go digital first, and ... moving to New York!

Quelle horreur!

In reality? TNR was a training ground for some neoliberals, and even more a lot of neoconservatives.

You know, the type that, at various levels of alleged liberalism, worked to give Shrub Bush pseudointellectual, pseudoliberal "cover" for invading Iraq.

Yes, since Peretz finally let go of the paper, it's gotten better on not being racist. But, the inside-the-Beltway thinking otherwise? From the occasional articles I've grokked online, little has changed there.

For those who claim TNR wasn't racist, an old cover.
Via Ta-Nehesi Coates' Twitter feed.
Who, outside the Beltway, would mourn that, or call it "heterodox liberalism"? Speaking of, I wonder how national Democrats will pontificate. Or national bloggers? Why am I not surprised that Josh Marshall called TNR, Peretz version, "really good"?

Additional serious points about its current status.

The Daily Beast nails one other angle.

Current owner Chris Hughes is a co-founder of Facebook. He's been a partner in Gawker.

You can form some idea of what the new TNR is going to look like just from that.

Clickbait articles. Political gossip. Political picture. A bit gussied up, still. Commentary to hold that together.

In other words, a kinder, gentler version of the UK's clickbait newspaper, The Daily Mail.

On the other hand, for the Dylan Byars types and beyond? Some people at TNR, and probably starting with Leon Wieseltier, probably did need some kicking around.

As for what this does, or does not, say about #JournalismIsDying, political/opinion mags have been money-losers for decades. Ask National Review and The Nation. Rich benefactors is the only way they stay afloat.

Chris Hughes will either become a rich benefactor, or his Facebooky click-bait model will fail without his wallet, and he'll move on. If we're lucky, Hughes will screw up enough to kill it.

That said, said failure will be blamed on anything and everything else but neoliberalism, and Net 2.0 related items.


Corey Robin has some interesting thoughts. While acknowledging that TNR was racist and warmongering, he says that's not what's caused its semi-demise. Rather, in what's probably going to be infuriating to Sully of my Photoshopping, down through the sacked Franklin Foer and everybody who quit in sympathy this week, Robin said that it ran out of intellectual steam.

I would modify that. I'd say that it was rather that its intellectual steam got adopted by so much of the modern GOP, as well as neoliberal Democrats, that its one big idea became an inside-the-Beltway commonplace.

Texas GOP hypocrisy alert, immigration division

Just one day! after suing President Obama for his allegedly illegal executive orders on immigration, the inmates running the asylum in Austin are sending him a bill for the border surge this summer.

I'm going to laugh to see that "invoice" get returned for "insufficient postage" or something.

Actually, if Comptroller-elect Hegar is going to personally deliver that "invoice" in January, I'd love to see Dear Leader personally deliver his "no" back to the state Capitol in Austin.

That said, it's Barack Obama. Who am I kidding?

What's even more hypocritical is billing Washington for the cost of educating illegal immigrant children when the wingnuts in Austin refuse to adequately pay for educating kids who are already here legally.

December 04, 2014

More money-wasting and cronyism from the Texas GOP

From a press release by Ag Commissioner-elect Sid Miller yesterday:
Today, the transition team of Texas Agriculture Commissioner-elect Sid Miller announced that Texas Facilities Commission Executive Director Terry Keel will be leaving that agency and will be joining the Texas Department of Agriculture as an Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture. The former state lawmaker, Travis County Sheriff, and criminal prosecutor will assume the newly created position of Assistant Commissioner for Enforcement, Consumer Protection, and Border Security. In that capacity he will oversee the department’s extensive inspection division and will protect Texas consumers from fraud and abuse by those the department regulates.

First, those have been responsibilities of the Ag Department for years and years, and theoretically (but often not actually) getting done without a new assistant commissioner.

So, there's the money-wasting part.

The crony part?

The first Republican sheriff of Travis County, as Miller touts Keel, eventually lost in the 2006 GOP primary when he tried to move from the Texas House to the Court of Criminal Appeals. It's actually kind of sad, because he's basically a non-wingnut Republican.

And, that said, maybe that's a bit of positivity about Miller.

#Obamacare: If Chuck Schumer is a 2016 Democrat, I'm more Green than ever (updated)

So, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) is saying that Democrats in 2008 didn't have a mandate to pass Obamacare?

Really? I could have sworn that I heard both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton discuss national health care ideas of some sort or another in multiple Democratic debates and their campaigns in general. I could have sworn I heard Obama mention something about it in the general election.

As for not tackling the recession? Hey, Chucky boy, did you push Obama to keep his stimulus package below $1 trillion? Yes, as the survey shows. Even worse, we know you pushed Obama to name one of the chief architects of the recession, Tim Geithner, as his Treasury Secretary.

Either admit that you, like Obama, didn't take the Great Recession as seriously as you should have, or shut up.

Right now, you're blaming a non-issue as part of the cause of a problem which you helped cause.


Update, Dec. 4: Michael Hiltzik answers Schumer, his inside-the-Beltway supporters, and, indirectly, other Senate Democrats.

He says the problem isn't with Obamacare, but with Senate Democrats who ran away from it and let the GOP define it.

Fair enough, as far as it goes, Michael.

But, some of that criticism needs to attach to The Not So Great Communicator himself, Dear Leader.

This is Hiltzik's second column on this issue since Schumer spoke out.

In his first, he gave Schumer a paddling for "spinelessness."

He adds that O-care benefits the middle class as well as the poor.

Then, there's this.
(L)eaving aside that Congress and the White House should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, the notion that the pursuit of healthcare reform resulted in the abandonment of economic growth policy is bizarre.

True that. On the other hand, since his first six months in office, at least on major issues, sometimes it does seem that this is the case. 

Hiltzik does also remind us that Schumer apparently lost his 2009 legislative calendar somewhere:
As Brian Beutler and Scott Lemieux cogently observe, President Obama had already gotten the Recovery Act through Congress before work began on the healthcare law, and he wasn't going to get more stimulus from the GOP on Capitol Hill no matter how hard he tried.
Charles Schumer, pandering idiot.

Doorknob help us if this is the opening salvo in challenging Harry Reid as Senate Democratic leader. (I suspect it is.) 

December 03, 2014

Deep Thoughts: Greg Abbott and Barack Obama

Greg Abbott, throwing "words" against a posterboard.
So, Gov-elect Strangeabbott is going to meet Dear Leader face-to-face at the White House on Friday.

I'm assuming Abbott is not quite crass enough to present a new lawsuit against Obama in person, but you never know.

He has now filed suit over Obama's immigration actions.

Will he bring a copy of that sign? Or at least spit its words out of his mouth, verbatim? Will he ask for some sort of Texas exemption from the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Of course, that's just the start of a whole series of rhetorical questions.

Will he try to outscholar our Constitutional.Law.Scholar.™president? (Not that either of them actually is, of course.)

Will Obama crack some Rick Perry jokes with him?

Will Obama explain that the Administrative Procedure Act means nothing like what Abbott wishes it meant, and that, based on Abbott's pollution related losses to Obama in SCOTUS earlier this year, he should know that?

Will Obama then remind Abbott in person that Obama punked him on other environmental cases? (And thus he has more reason for knowing what the APA means.)

Will Abbott try to "accidentally" run over Obama with his wheelchair?

Will Obama ask him what he thinks about Scott Panetti?

If so, will Abbott ask him back, based on his Illinois state senate days, if he still supports the death penalty himself?

Will Obama bluntly ask him something like, "Do you really believe all the stupidity you spout, Greg?"

Will Strangeabbott then actually start to get up out of his wheelchair in an attempt to punch out Obama?

Will Obama then threaten to keep drones permanently over the Texas governor's mansion?

Of course, that's assuming Abbott gets inside the White House.

"Sorry, Greg, that the Belgian Malinois dogs went a bit rough on you. You know the Secret Service has been under fire for being lax on presidential protection. Presidential Detail asked for a few items of clothing from somebody to upgrade the dogs' training, and ... well, you know how it goes."

"Yes, I do, Mr. President. These California campaign supporters (shh, I told the Texas Ethics Commission they were Texas donors) mailed me all these boxes of "Abortion Barbies" and I had to figure out what to do with them."

"Oh, please, call me 'Hussein.' You know you want to, just once. But — never in public!"

"Yeah, I have wanted to say it — 'Hussein, Hussein, Hussein!' Damn, that feels good."

"Thanks, Greg, that's all we need to confirm your voice recognition patterns for the National Security Agency. It's been a pleasure to meet you and do a little business today."

And, per the first story link, will the Austin American Statesman ever let Jonathan Tilove write columns as snarky as this?

December 02, 2014

Stop with the fake apologies, wingnuts

Elizabeth Lauten, 2-timing House aide,
likely future Faux News hostess.
(Ditch the glasses, though.)
I may have written a blog post about this before, but even if I did, it needs to be written again, and the fake apology plus resignation of Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher, is the perfect opportunity to do so again.

First, let's remember what she said:
"Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class.

"At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department. Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events."

Got it.

Then, the text of the fake apology:

"After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were," Lauten wrote. "I'd like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have)from this experience."
Got that.

This whole thing is a pack of mixed straight-up lies, hypocrisy, and exposure of moral failings of the Religious Right.

First, Ms. Lauten, you are (or rather, were) a Congressman's communications director. Theoretically, that means you know something about ... communicating.

Therefore, the idea that communications might affect another person's emotions only occurring to you long after your Facebook post (which took at least as long to write as three Tweets) is laughable, unless you were highly ODed on cheap turkey tryptophan, and maybe some cheap Tokay, from Thanksgiving.

Second, that you had to talk to your parents and do many hours of prayer? Puhleeze. You Religious Rightists are always boasting about good Christian parents raising their kids on the straight and narrow, and how this supposedly "sticks."

Well, what you're saying is that it didn't stick, and your parents weren't such good parents.

Third, we know that you didn't talk to your parents, just like we know your words aren't real, for the same reason you're not talking about your "resignation.

You actually talked to your boss, Rep. Stephen Fincher, who explained how you were ruining his reputation, and that you therefore needed to resign.

A real apology, as I sent to what used to be (I didn't know if it still is) Lauten's Twitter account would start with the honesty of admitting it was a cheap political stunt, one that she knew could be hurtful, and one that she didn't care or not whether it was hurtful.

In line with that, the WaPost reminds us that this is far from the first time that wingnuts have gone after presidential daughters. It just mentions Chelsea Clinton and Amy Carter, in addition to the Obama daughters. But, Harry Truman could tell you about the attacks on Margaret.

Also, it's not like you're only 21 yourself, Ms. Lauten.

Per your LinkedIn account, it's been at least 7 years since you graduated college. Also, Fincher is the second Congresscritter for whom you've worked.

That said, crocodile tears, fake apology, blond hair, late 20s?

Six months at the outside before you're on Faux News.

December 01, 2014

Curt Schilling: Non-equal-opportunity douche

Curt Schilling:
'Monkey's nephew'
and a douche, too 
So, Curt Schilling got in a Twitter argument with ESPN's Keith Law over evolution, which got Law a Twitter suspension from the liars at the Great Red Satan in Bristol.

Since then, Law punked both Schilling and ESPN with his initial post-suspension Tweet.

And since then, as Craig Calcaterra explains, with link to Schilling's Facebook feed, Schilling's doubled down on douchery and butt-hurt.

Here he is:
Not sure how many of you, if any, followed the Twitter explosion last week. I was arguing, debating, talking with some folks about Evolution/Creation. Somehow someone made it into me not believing in the Theory of Evolution? I never said it, not even close. I said as a Christian I understand where man came from and how, regardless of whether I can imagine it, God did it, that's good enough for me. Keith Law got suspended from Twitter for publicly arguing the point I think, it certainly wasn't for his opposing view. I like Keith, just thought it odd he'd want to publicly pick that fight, though I had zero problems with it ESPN took action. I actually thought they would suspend me as well, was expecting it. 
Anyway, the reason I am posting this is, if you are on my feed, check out the evolution (no pun intended!!) of the conversation. Unsure of what stunned me more, the anger, hatred and vile tweets from Atheists/Liberals, Democrats or the lack of Christians chiming in? I totally buy evolution within species, 100% as science has easily proven that. But as a Christian did people really need me to tweet that to know how I felt? Or was it the simple fact I publicly stated what anyone that knows me already knew? By the way, stunned at the language and commentary made by seemingly 'adults', scientists, teachers etc. Like they were 7 year olds on the playground again. 
I understand why non-believers get upset at this conversation, because many know in their hearts that if it's true their future is not in good shape. But the anger? Cussing? Every single follower I blocked had in their profile somewhere "Atheist" "Liberal" "Democrat" or some such label.

What is he really saying?

First, the "God did it, that's good enough for me," is an old classic of Biblical literalists. That's especially true when coupled with the denialism of not believing in evolution. He's claiming that he didn't say anything against evolution, just in favor of conservative Christian creationism.

Second, the old "microevolution" ploy in the second paragraph to prove he's pro-evolution. Not worthy of further comment.

Third, in the second graf, he's butt-hurt because ... well, because he's not as famous as Kirk Cameron or Ken Ham among literalist Christians. Well, he probably rectified that, and will be wanting fundamentalist speaking fees next.

Fourth, in the third graf? Ahh, blocking everybody who doesn't agree with you.

What Schiling really is saying is:

"I get to be a public douche on social media. I get to be a public douche a second time by blocking you for calling me a public douche. I get to be a public douche a third time by calling you the equivalent of a public douche."

Meanwhile, let's not forget this liberal-hater's hypocrisy of taking a $75 million guaranteed loan from the state of Rhode Island for creating 450 jobs, which one HBT commenter notes is about $167,000 per job. (And, Schilling's business venture flopped like a beached Rush Limbaugh.)

That said, I don't get some secularists (or at least I think they are, one in particular) on Hardball Talk who says that religion, like science, is "a way of knowing."

No, it ain't. That's Steve Gould's non-overlapping magisteria, perhaps on steroids.

Religion is certainly "a way of explaining." But, it's not a way of knowing. Nope.

Flush the plush and flush GangGreen enviros

Help the environment -- flush the plush!
The plush that I want you to flush are the stuffed small toy "charismatic megafauna" animals that Gang Green environmental groups use in general to stimulate your smiles, your tears and eventually your wallet.

For the uninformed, Gang Green type environmental groups are the ones that are as concerned with "access" to national Democratic politicians as they are to results, as they themselves established with the start of Bill Clinton's first term.

Back to the plushes that need to be flushed, though.

First, they're made in China or places even worse for labor law. Did kids make them? Workers on 12-hour shifts? Why aren't they being made in America?

Part of labor-environmentalist tangles are due to organized labor buying into lies of big business, but part of it is environmentalists' self-inflicted wounds.

And, if you ask the Gang Green folks where these things are made, and under what conditions, they may just give you nothing but the back of their hand. I had exactly that experience with Sierra Club over a backpack a number of years ago.

Meanwhile, if your wallet does follow your smile and your tears, you'll next get bombarded with boatloads of snail mail. I presume it's made from mainly recycled paper, but it often doesn't explicitly say so, and it still takes money to recycle paper, as well as energy.

(The only nonprofit worse than the Gang Green folks on this is the ACLU. I stopped supporting them years ago, and since ACLU has now officially adopted the Glenn Greenwald stance on Citizens United, not only would I not recommend them to other people, I'd actually recommend current ACLU  donors to stop giving them money.)

Anyway, back to the plushes.

They're almost surely made out of petroleum-based plastics. Very environmentally unfriendly.

It takes a lot of naval diesel fuel to ship those plushes from China. Very environmentally unfriendly.

Chinese factories are less energy-efficient and more environmentally unfriendly than US ones.

Real environmentalists know this.

The Gang Green ones prey on more casual environmentalists.

Don't be like this.

Flush the plush. You'll actually help the environment as much as a token donation to a Gang Green group.