News From Around The Blogosphere 01.19.09

What happens after $cientology chews you up and spits you out – The story of a man who managed to rebuild his life after $cientology destroyed it, and is now fighting back.

atheist-bus-battling-buses-picadilly2Attempts to Atheist bus ads in UK – The gambit they’re using is that religious people are made to feel uncomfortable riding on these buses. Funny, they’ve never acted to remove Christian ads from buses out of fear that it would make atheists feel uncomfortable. Friendly Atheist sums it up nicely:

Victoria’s Secret promotions, posters for Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and ads for pseudoscientific books like The Secret? Those are ok to have on buses. Suggest there may not be a God? That’s apparently horrendous, evil stuff that must be blocked from the public eye.

PZ Myers goes off on religious nut Gerald Warner for his absurd position on the atheist bus ads

Would you pay for something if you didn’t have to? - Regular church attendees in Austria wouldn’t, according to a recent pop psychology or quirkological study.

How to hallucinate with ping-pong balls and a radio – Also find out how to relieve pain with nothing but binoculars and feel like you have a very long nose and see beautiful imaginary images with nothing but your hand and the sun.

The Health Department has re-issued a warning that these pills could cause a diabetic coma, permanent brain injury or death.

It is marketed on websites as 100 per cent herbal, but contains ingredients such as donkey kidney and deer antler. It is also claimed to be a natural alternative to Viagra with no side effects.

Natural versus “natural” in CAMworld – David Gorski gives a proper thrashing to the sCAM folks who sell the 21st century’s answer to voodoo as if it were real medicine just labeling it “natural.”

foil-hatLately I’ve been more aggravated at grand conspiracy theorists than the standard creationists. So I was glad to read Greta Christina’s reponse to the nonsense:  What Would Convince You That You Were Wrong? It reminds me a little of a blog I wrote 2 months ago, Why I go after the grand conspiracy theorists.

In India, two 7-year-old girls married to frogs to prevent disease -

The ceremony, an annual feature during the Pongal (harvest) festival, is conducted “to prevent the outbreak of mysterious diseases in the village”.

And no, the frog never turns into a prince ever!

The evolutionary roots of storytelling – This article attempts to explain why storytelling endures across time and cultures.

Chinese erection pill sends 3 to hospital – The pill was Nangen Zengzhangsu.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyLanguage Driven By Culture, Not Biology? – “Language in humans has evolved culturally rather than genetically, according to a study by UCL (University College London) and US researchers. By modelling the ways in which genes for language might have evolved alongside language itself, the study showed that genetic adaptation to language would be highly unlikely, as cultural conventions change much more rapidly than genes. Thus, the biological machinery upon which human language is built appears to predate the emergence of language.” So it wasn’t the Tower of Babel!

‘Molecular Parasites’ In Human Genome? – “Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, determined the structure of a protein (L1ORF1p), which is encoded by a parasitic genetic element and which is responsible for its mobility. The so-called LINE-1 retrotransposon is a mobile genetic element that can multiply and insert itself into chromosomal DNA at many different locations. This disturbs the genetic code at the site of integration, which can have serious consequences for the organism.”

Prehistoric Fish Reveals Vertebrate Origins – “In an article in the journal Nature January 14, Uppsala researcher Martin Brazeau describes the skull and jaws of a fish that lived about 410 million years ago. The study may give important clues to the origin of jawed vertebrates, and thus ultimately our own evolution.” So for those keeping track, that’s 409,994,000 years before the whole universe existed, according to Young Earth Creationists.

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