News From Around The Blogosphere 12.14.08

December 15, 2008

ATHEIST DISCRIMINATION:

i_dont_want_youApparently marriage is defined as a union between a religious man a woman – Yeah, that’s right. In SIN City, along with the rest of Nevada and in other states, you must belong to a congregation to get married. Oddly, self-proclaimed Humanists can get away with saying they’re part of The Humanist Society, which has tax status as a religious group. But many atheists like myself don’t consider that a viable option. And this isn’t just some old law on the books that nobody even knows about let alone enforces.

Michael Jacobson, a 64-year-old retiree who calls himself a lifelong atheist, tried this year to get a license to perform weddings. Clark County [Nevada] rejected his application because he had no ties to a congregation, as state law requires.

So Jacobson and attorneys from two national secular groups — the American Humanist Assn. and the Center for Inquiry — are trying to change things. If they can’t persuade the state Legislature to rework the law, they plan to sue.

. . .

“… I’m not going to do it by saying I belong to a religious organization,” he said. “That’s a sham, because atheists are not religious.”

The awesome Massimo Pugliucci rips tears the L.A. Times a new one for their recent opinion piece on the rise of superstition – I’d briefly touched on this story here. Massimo, who I had the fortune of meeting at a recent lecture, goes off on this poorly reasoned story that criticizes materialism (creationists’ favorite boogyman) and points out something I didn’t even notice when I’d originally skimmed the article:  according to the byline at the bottom of the page, the author, David Klinghoffer,  is:

. . .a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and the author of “The Lord Will Gather Me In: My Journey to Jewish Orthodoxy” and “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History.”

Ugh! That explains SO MUCH.

monkey-thinkingScientists ‘baffled’ again – CNN uses the old cliche to sensationalize science news again. They said:

“Scientists are baffled by mysterious acorn shortage.”

monkey-frustratedBut according to Steve Novella:

In turns out that scientists are not baffled at all. Acorn crops run in cycles. Last year there was a bumper crop – much larger than normal. Bumper crops tend to be followed by lean crops as the trees now need to conserve resources. This cycle may have been exagerated by a wet spring, which also tends to decrease acorn production.

Mystery solved.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyWarm Plasma Cloak Surrounds Earth – “A detailed analysis of the measurements of five different satellites has revealed the existence of the warm plasma cloak, a new region of the magnetosphere, which is the invisible shield of magnetic fields and electrically charged particles that surround and protect Earth from the onslaught of the solar wind.”


Neuroscience–the next battleground for creationism

December 13, 2008

Ever since I first attended a lecture by Neorologist and skeptic Steve Novella and discovered his podcasrs and blogs, I’ve become a huge fan of his. So I’ve been following the continuing on-again-off-again blogging debate between him and Michael Egnor of the infamous creationist think tank the Discovery Institute with great interest.

So as the creationists begin to shift their arguments more towards attacking materialism in favor of inexplicable dualism it’s to be expected that neuroscience denial will play an important role in their arguments. And that’s where Egnor comes in.

A while back Egnor had taken aim at Novella, specifically challenging him to an online debate. Steve Novella happily accepted and so it began. Egnor made the first move. And Novella has in addition to giving his own opening statement, rebutted Egnor. They’ve gone back and forth a couple of times with Novella responding fairly quickly on his NeuroLogica blog while Egnor would disappearfrom the debate for huge periods of time only to casually resurface a month or so later either by saying the same things he said before or making new claims. But so far Egnor hasn’t made any real honest attempts to challenge any of Novella’s points, instead opting for straw men, ad hominems, and a host of other logical fallacies. And in Steve Novella’s latest blog he once again calls Egnor on his bullshit. I look forward to Egnors respon–err, I mean inevitable reiteration of what has already been refuted.


Discovery Institute asking for an apology

November 23, 2008

Discovery Institute asking for an apology - I’d previously posted about the 2 women who got a personal tour of The Discovery Institute by pretending to be cdesign proponentsists. Well, in the interests of “civility”, Casey Luskin of the DI says he would be willing to meet with them again for a real discussion. . .provided they apologize and sell out their principles. He thinks this is a fair deal.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.14.08

November 15, 2008

Even Better Than The Real Thing – Placebo acupuncture (if ever there were a more redundant phrase) more effective at getting you knocked up than real acupuncture:

A study comparing the effects of real and placebo acupuncture on pregnancy rates during assisted reproduction has found that, surprisingly, placebo acupuncture was associated with a significantly higher overall pregnancy rate than real acupuncture.

GM food hysteria is back in the news – A recent study found that a long-term diet of genetically modified corn decreases fertility in lab mice. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything for humans and therefore further research will have to be done. But of course the usual GM-phobic suspects are trying to tout this study as proof that their delusional rants have been justified for all these years. Um, no. You see pretty everything we eat in the 21st Century is genetically modified and without which millions of people around the world would starve.

Obama endorsing chiropractic? – Please just be paying lip service. I really don’t want my tax dollars to be squandered on this crap.

Damned for voting Obama? -

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman, a South Carolina Roman Catholic priest, has warned his parishioners that they will be committing a deadly sin if they voted for Barack Obama and accept Holy Communion before doing penance. His rationale? That supporting the pro-choice Obama “constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil”. He goes on to describe Obama as “the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate”.

Um, can’t we take away this lunatic’s tax exempt status for preaching from the pulpit?

creationism-cartoon-i-will-not-teach-horse-shitAlternate title suggestion: “The Road To Ignorance Contest”or Shameless Discovery Institute Attempt to Exploit Child Labor & Promote Religious Ideas Deemed Unworthy by the Scientific Peer Review Process.

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergency

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

77-million-year-old Dinosaur ‘Whodunit’ Solved – “It has all the hallmarks of a Cretaceous melodrama. A dinosaur sits on her nest of a dozen eggs on a sandy river beach. Water levels rise, and the mother is faced with a dilemma: Stay or abandon her unhatched offspring to the flood and scramble to safety?

Seventy-seven million years later, scientific detective work conducted by University of Calgary and Royal Tyrrell Museum researchers used this unique fossil nest and eggs to learn more about how nest building, brooding and eggs evolved. But there is a big unresolved question: Who was the egg-layer?” Keep in mind that this would have been 76,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists. But who’s counting?

Prehistoric Pelvis: Clues To Human Development – “Discovery of the most intact female pelvis of Homo erectus may cause scientists to reevaluate how early humans evolved to successfully birth larger-brained babies.”

Ultimate Recycling: Turning Urine Into Water – “Two hundred and fifty miles above the Earth puts you a long way from the nearest kitchen tap. And at $15,000 a pint, the cost of shipping fresh water aboard the space shuttle is, well, astronomical.

So astronauts on the International Space Station have to recapture every possible drop. That includes water evaporated from showers, shaving, tooth brushing and hand washing, plus perspiration and water vapor that collects within the astronauts’ space suits. They even transfer water from the fuel cells that provide electric power to the space shuttle.

Until now, however, NASA has not attempted to tap one major potential source of water: urine. That will soon change with the deployment of the new Water Recovery System. It departs Friday, Nov. 14, from the Kennedy Space Center on the Space Shuttle Endeavor.”

Mineral Kingdom Has Co-evolved With Life – “Evolution isn’t just for living organisms. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution have found that the mineral kingdom co-evolved with life, and that up to two thirds of the more than 4,000 known types of minerals on Earth can be directly or indirectly linked to biological activity.”

Fish Choose Their Leaders By Consensus – “Just after Americans have headed to the polls to elect their next president, a new report in the November 13th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveals how one species of fish picks its leaders: Most of the time they reach a consensus to go for the more attractive of two candidates.” Wow, so it’s just like our democracy then.

Marine Plankton Found In Amber – “Marine microorganisms have been found in amber dating from the middle of the Cretaceous period. The fossils were collected in Charente, in France. This completely unexpected discovery will deepen our understanding of these lost marine species as well as providing precious data about the coastal environment of Western France during the Cretaceous.”

Light Triggers New Code For Brain Cells – “Brain cells can adopt a new chemical code in response to cues from the outside world, scientists working with tadpoles at the University of California, San Diego report in the journal Nature.

. . . Dark tadpoles don pale camouflage when exposed to bright light. The researchers have now identified cells in the tadpole brain that respond to illumination by making dopamine, a chemical message, or neurotransmitter, recognized by the system that controls pigmentation.”

A glimpse at some possible future atheist ads – Admittedly, I’m not a fan of most of them. The only one I like from the bunch is this one:

But I still love last year’s billboards much, much more:

atheist-billboard1atheistbillboard2

None of these weak phrases like “There is probably no God.” These are much stronger and less likely to viewed as offensive or be written off as atheists just looking for friends because they’re desperate and lonely.


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.15.08

October 16, 2008

The battle isn’t over in Texas – The Texas Board of Education has named the 6 people who will be on a committee to review science curriculum standards. And 3 of them are creationists:

  • Stephen Meyer, vice-frakkin’-president of the odious Discovery Institute in Washington state;
  • Ralph Seelke, a pro-ID creationist and biologist from Wisconsin;
  • Charles Garner, a chemist from Baylor who is also a pro-ID creationist.

The first 2, Meyer and Seelke, wrote the new ID textbook, Explore Evolution.

So, three good guys and three ignorant ideologues, with the overall head of the board of education being Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist. It’s going to get ugly.

You hate me! You really hate me! – University of Minnesota Professor Randy Moore has won an award from the Discovery Institute: “The Award for Most Dogmatic Indoctrinator in an Evolutionary Biology Course.” Though obviously an ironic award from Evolution deniers, I’d say it’s quite an honor. So congratulations for pissing off the creationists!

Suit against God tossed out over lack of address – 2 months ago I blogged about Ernie Chambers, the senator who sued God. Well now the case has been thrown out because the God had no known address and could not be reached. But I thought God was “everywhere?” Anyway, this isn’t over. God won’t escape the law forever. I will not rest until God’s protection racket is shut down and he is behind bars. (Thanks Michelle)

Denis Leary in need of serious rescuing – I’ve always liked Denis Leary. I’d even call myself a Denis Leary fan. But now he’s really stepped in it. Mirroring the moronic comments of Michael Savage several months ago regarding autism, comments in Leary’s latest book has exposed him to be an autism denier. In a chapter titled “Autism Schmautism,” Leary writes:

“There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can’t compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks…to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons.

“I don’t give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you—yer kid is NOT autistic. He’s just stupid. Or lazy. Or both.”

Now compare this to Savage’s controversial statements from months ago where Savage characterized nearly every child with autism as:

“. . .a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out.”

“It is an overdiagnosed medical condition. In my readings, there is no definitive medical diagnosis for autism.”

On the July 16 installment of his program, which is broadcast every weekday, Mr. Savage suggested that “99 percent of the cases” of autism were a result of lax parenting. He told his audience: “They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron.You’ll get nowhere in life.’ ”

“ ‘Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’ ”

And now Leary’s excuse for backing away from the comments are also mirroring Savage’s, that he only meant some parents are exploiting the diagnosis and not all:

Leary suggests that those critics obviously haven’t read the book.

“Or if they have,” the Emmy-nominated actor said in a statement, “they missed the sections I thought made my feelings about autism very clear: that I not only support the current rational approaches to the diagnoses and treatment of real autism but have witnessed it firsthand while watching very dear old friends raise a functioning autistic child.”

Autism Society of America:

“For Mr. Leary to suggest that families or doctors conspire to falsely diagnose autism is ridiculous. Mr. Leary’s remarks reflect the same misconceptions of autism being caused by bad or unemotional parenting that were held over 50 years ago, misconceptions that have been completely disproven by the scientific community.”

Leary is still insisting that he’s not denying that autism exists and that the whole thing is being taken out of context. His solution to the alleged misconception: read his book. Of course I’ll reserve judgment until the matter is further explored but right now I think Leary was right about 1 thing: he is an asshole (Thanks Brain).

Interview with an Islamic fundamentalist:

It’s not just acupuncture, it’s laser acupuncture – Ugh! The stupid! It burns! Even more reason to avoid reading NaturalNews.com.

Alcohol shrinks the brain

Human testicles yield stem cells: “Scientists have derived potentially therapeutic stem cells from adult, human testicles—a development that may eventually make new medical treatments possible while avoiding moral dilemmas.”

Is College Worth It?

And they have the nerve you charge you a buck?! - A new study finds that bottled water is full of contaminants too. I’ve sung the praising of the U.S.’s water supply before. For all the problems in our country, you’d still be hard pressed to find cleaner tap water anywhere else in the world. And the fact is that besides the convenience factor, the prettier packaging, and the weight loss on your wallet, commercially sold bottled waters aren’t really any healthier than was you can get from your tap. Plus, they don’t even contain fluoride in them, which contrary to the conspiracy nuts out there, is actually beneficial.

Religulous creeping up on Expelled’s box office gross:

Bill Maher’s Religulous has made $7,049,342 in 13 days.

Ben Stein’s Expelled made $7,598,071 in 39 days.

Religulous is still in theaters. Expelled is not.

Double standard within the atheist community – Several weeks ago, I blogged about the vandalism of the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics’ flag. Sadly, many of my fellow atheists want to write this off as no big deal and just move on. I think that’s truly sad. Here’s a video of the making of the replacement flag:

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Evolution From Fish To Land Animals Revealed – “New research has provided the first detailed look at the internal head skeleton of Tiktaalik roseae, the 375-million-year-old fossil animal that represents an important intermediate step in the evolutionary transition from fish to animals that walked on land.”

People With Autism Make More Rational Decisions – “People with autism-related disorders are less likely to make irrational decisions, and are less influenced by gut instincts, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust. The study adds to the growing body of research implicating altered emotional processing in autism.”

Oldest Fossil Impression Of Flying Insect – “While paleontologists may scour remote, exotic places in search of prehistoric specimens, Tufts researchers have found what they believe to be the world’s oldest whole-body fossil impression of a flying insect in a wooded field behind a strip mall in North Attleboro, Mass.”

Another Route Out Of Africa For Early Humans – “The widely held belief that the Nile valley was the most likely route out of sub-Saharan Africa for early modern humans 120,000 year ago is challenged in a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.30.08

October 1, 2008

THIS DAY IN GOD:

Not all religiously-motivated terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are caused by Muslims – Some nutty American Christians sprayed gas into a mosque filled with kids. Some suspect this is connected with an anti-Muslim “documentary,” Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.

Consequences of Pulpit Sunday – As I mentioned in my blog 2 days ago, a group of religious organizations planned to preach from the pulpit to tell their parishioners who to vote for, deliberately violating the rules that afford them tax exempt status on Sunday. Americans United for Separation of Church and State is already filing complaints with the IRS.

Religious sentiment in New Zealand – A recent New Zealand survey suggests only 40% of the people believe in a god, and 10% do but have doubts. Only 52% believe in an immortal soul, and 80% accept evolution. Not surprisingly, this secular paradise is not the crime-ridden distopia theists would have you believe. Quite the opposite.

CREATIONIST NEWS:

Creationists are losing the battle in North Carolina! YEA! - I blogged about the creationist goings-on in North Carolina 2 weeks ago (here). Apparently the creationist Newspeak gambit isn’t working no matter how many times they insist:

Religion is Science

Science is Religion

Bill Gates funding the Discover Institute? – Et tu, Bill? As if there weren’t enough reasons to switch to a Mac.

CRANKS IN THE NEWS:

Mayor of Fort Mill, South Carolina sent a chain email around that said something to the effect of, The Bible says the anti-Christ would be a Muslim, Barack Obama is a Muslim, ergo, Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. Can’t argue with that bulletproof logic.

Christian Civic League of Maine blames Wall Street crash on gays – One would have thought the Jews would make better scapegoats for this one. But then again, who am I to tell the bigots how to do their bigotry?

“Our crisis is a symptom, not the cause,” writes Michael Heath. “I am not saying I know whether this financial crisis is God’s judgment or not. It is not for me to know that definitively.”

Hellmouth

Hellmouth

Conservative Christian reviewer calls Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast the “Mouthpiece of Satan” – Apparently he’s under the impression that all they do is sit around mocking god-belief. Though oddly, having heard every episode, I somehow must have missed that one. Oh, and also he also believes that autism is a “disease” and is one of many “judgments from God.” He calls it, “liquid blasphemy” (I guess it’s liquid because vaccines contain liquid). Of the podcast, he says:

“There is nothing redeemable in this podcast. It’s a propaganda mouthpiece for Satan and his followers.”

AND IN ANTIVACCINATION NEWS:

Jenny McCarthy fires back at Amanda “My Future Wife” Peet - I dare you not to laugh when you read this quote by Jenny:

“(Peet) has a lot of [nerve] to come forward and be on that side, because there is an angry mob on my side, and I like the fact that I can say she’s completely wrong.” She added, “I look at (Peet) now and say to myself, ‘That was me before I had autism in my life,’ and until she walks in our shoes, she really has no idea.”

Wah! Wah! Also, the national autism advocacy group Autism United is calling for a boycott of all of Amanda Peet’s movies:

“Our community will not support the continued misinformation that is funneled into the media by organizations like ECBT and the American Academy of Pediatrics. We are not against vaccines, rather we are for safe vaccines. Until they understand that, we won’t back down.”

Flash forward to a month from now when they’ve backed down. The difference between McCarthy and antivaccinationists at Age of Autism is:

“There’s a big difference. One teaches. The other proselytizes. May Amanda never need our help.”

Oddly, I agree on both counts. Peet teaches while McCarthy proselytizes nonsense and it truly would be a tragedy if Peet ever needed these delusional fools’ help. But yeah, as everyone knows the pediatricianazis are next to traitors in the center of Hell. Damn you, you pediatrician!!! Stop protecting our children!!!

Also McCarthy apparently couldn’t understand why Barbara Walters didn’t believe that her son, Evan, had recovered from the currently uncurable autism until Jenny found some convoluted explanation for Walters’ skepticism.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:

In Defense of Food – Here’s another blog recommending we stop listening to nutritionists and stupid fad diets and just eat rationally, citing the eating advice of one author who breaks it down to 7 words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Though blogger Harriet Hall makes a slight alteration to this advice: Eat a variety of foods. Not too much. Mostly plants.

What does a scientific consensus mean?

The Times investigates alternative medicine in a series of articles – But apparently in the most recent article, the author doesn’t take into account Bayes’ Theorem, which states that the more implausible the hypothesis, the less likely that any numerical data can confirm it.

Phil Plait interviewed for Popular Science Magazine regarding Moon Hoaxers

EPIC FAIL!

Congratulations to PETA for making the Epic Fail 2 consecutive weeks in a row!! That’s quite an accomplishment – Okay, I found last week’s stunt nothing but mildly amusing. But this time it’s personal! Now they’re blaming the genetic disorder autism on milk consumption. Anyway, Orac delivers a crushing debunking of their ludicrous, repulsive propaganda taking advantage of the current hysteria surrounding the disorder.

WHAT’S THE HARM?

Homeopathic/herbal scam artist sentenced:

A Shelby County man who scammed thousands of hopeful customers worldwide with bogus health-remedies pleaded guilty Monday to computer fraud and agreed to forfeit cars, motorcycles, bank accounts and other property. . . “We have victims from virtually every continent and there allegedly are several thousand victims,” said Steve Crossnoe of the District Attorneys Office White Collar Crime Prosecution Unit. “People were not receiving what they thought they were receiving. The medical research was fictional. The doctors were fictional.”

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Mass Extinctions And Evolution Of Dinosaurs – “Dinosaurs survived two mass extinctions and 50 million years before taking over the world and dominating ecosystems, according to new research published this week.”

New Dinosaur Had Bird-Like Breathing System – “The remains of a 30-foot-long predatory dinosaur discovered along the banks of Argentina’s Rio Colorado is helping to unravel how birds evolved their unusual breathing system.”

Mars Lander Sees Falling Snow On Red Planet – “NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander has detected snow falling from Martian clouds. Spacecraft soil experiments also have provided evidence of past interaction between minerals and liquid water, processes that occur on Earth.”

Second-hand Smoke May Hook Kids On Nicotine – “Parents who smoke cigarettes around their kids in cars and homes beware – second-hand smoke may trigger symptoms of nicotine dependence in children.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.8.08

September 9, 2008

Scientists find ‘commitment’ gene – Scientists have now isolated the gene for commitment and monogamy.

CREATIONIST NEWS:

cdesign proponentsists invade Oregon – At Jefferson High School near Salem, Oregon, IDeots have surfaced to push teaching “the other view” in the Science classes. Here we go again. Do we need to have another Dover Trial? (Complete Trial Transcript here, Judge Jones’ complete 139-page decision here, and all other trial documents here.)

Ron Reagan said:

““Creationism is one of the scary beliefs Palin advocates.”

Not surprisingly, this didn’t go over too well with Answers in Genesis.

The How of Steve – Project Steve has hit the 895 mark, almost reaching 900 signers. If you don’t know what Project Steve is, it was devised by the National Center for Science Education as a parody of the signed lists of “Ph’d’s” and “scientists” collected by creationist that allegedly have serious doubts about the Theory of Evolution so that the creationists can make it look as though there’s actually a scientific controversy when in actually there isn’t. To really hit home how absurd this is the NCSE decided to make their own list of pro-Evolution scientists only they’d deliberately limit their list only to scientists with variations of the name “Steve,” such as Stephen, Stephan, Stephanie, etc. Last I heard, just the number of scientists with Steve names that supported the Theory of Evolution was way ahead of the un-handicapped creationist list of any scientist on Earth that they can find to sign that they have doubts of Evolution and the Steve list included more scientists in relevant fields.

And now the epic conclusion of a drunken adventure of 2 women infiltrating the creationist Discovery Institute and getting a personal tour from Casey Luskin – Here is the first installment, the second installment, and the third installment. And now here is the fourth and final installment from Enemy Combatant: Trailmix Appreciation Club. And here’s the epilogue, a personal thank you to Luskin.

The Theory of Childhood is just a theory – This is a better written version of an argument I love to use on creationists.

The Tooth Fairy

ISLAMIC NEWS:

The Prime Minister of England gives the first ever Ramadan message as Britain moves to adopt Sharia law:

In Iran, four women have been jailed from blogging about women’s rights.

Speaking of Islam, my next story comes from Denmark:

Something is godless in the state of Denmark - It must be Godless Beer – thanks to the Danish Atheist Society.

POLITICAL NEWS:

Obama’s Science Policy - Doesn’t look half bad.

Obama – “I am not for selective vaccination. I believe that it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio.” – Awesome! As you can imagine, Age of Autism’s kinda pissed. Please call the Obama campaign at 866-675-2008 or email them at http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/contact2 to tell them you support Obama’s position on this issue. Otherwise, he’s likely to hear from enough kooks on the matter to maybe influence his position.

“There’s an underground church that the world has no idea exists.” – Prepare to enter Crazytown, USA … aka Wasilla, Alaska:

They picked the wrong Palin:

The tragic absurdity of delusional religious beliefs – I’m reminded of my Christian Death Paradox argument.

A Musical Journey from Christianity to atheismMatthew Terry is a musician who is about to release a song detailing his personal journey from Christianity to Atheism. You can check out the lyrics by clicking the link.

Haunted Spice Rack on eBay!

10 Things You Don’t Know About The Earth


AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Comets Throw Light On Solar System’s Beginnings – “Scientists already know that comets played a significant role in ensuring that conditions were right for life on Earth. Most of the icy, small planetary bodies that otherwise became comets went into forming the gas giant planets in the outer Solar System but some were ejected from the vicinity of the largest planets. Of these, a fraction ended up in the inner Solar System bringing water and biogenic elements of interest to Earth. Without this cometary transport, life on Earth may never have had a chance to start.”

Large Hadron Collider Seeks ‘Universal’ Answers – “How did the universe come to be? What is it made of? What is mass? Can science prove that there are other dimensions? We may have answers soon. On September 10, 2008, Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Erez Etzion from the School of Physics and Astronomy will be in the control room of the new CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on the border of France and Switzerland when the LHC is first turned on. Scientists are calling it the largest experiment in the world. It’s taken about 6,000 researchers, $8 billion and ten years to build.”

Smaller Males Go The Distance For Sex – “In a field study on Maud Island, New Zealand, evolutionary biologists from the University of Toronto at Mississauga discovered that male giant weta most successful at mating travel greater distances each night. Remarkably, it appears that being lightweight and having longer legs assist male wanderlust. Clint Kelly, Luc Bussière, and Darryl Gwynne found that males can walk more than 90 m each night in search of a mate – roughly equivalent to a 7000 m outing by a human male.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.2.08

September 3, 2008

9/11: Still not an inside jobI can’t believe I forgot to post a bulletin about this earlier but a few weeks ago the 9/11 conspiracy theorists were super excited about a new report coming out that investigated the cause of the collapse of WTC building 7 that they predicted would show that the building must have collapsed because of a controlled demolition. At the time, I sent a bulletin out asking 9/11 conspiracy theorists one question.
Since they’re so willing to embrace the conclusions of the report if it supports the controlled demolition hypothesis, will they be just as quick to embrace the results of the report if it does not support this conclusion?

Oddly, I received no responses. Well, the report finally came out.
And, it turns out it wasn’t a controlled demolition. I know. Shocking.
So if you were so willing to embrace the conclusions of the report if they had supported the controlled demolition hypothesis, will you now embrace the results of the report now that it does not support this conclusion? And if not, why not?

What have Sarah Palin’s pasters said?

Evangelicals like James Dobson tripping over themselves trying to spin Bristol Palin’s underage, unwed pregnancy – I hate to say it but maybe someone should have taught her about contraception . . . you know, like in school.

Skeptics Take DragonCon – This is definitely an event I’m going to have to get to next year.

Four Tips For Dating Believers -

Myth the credit card companies don’t want busted – The Mythbusters were apparently working on a segment about RFID vulnerabilities but were bullied out of it by the big credit card companies.

Court order remains for anti-vaccine couple – Remember the Australian couple who didn’t want to vaccinate their child against Hep B even though the mother carries the virus? The government wanted to drop the case but a judge has declined to allow them to do so.

Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy is now sponsoring the anti-vaccine Age of Autism – Little doubt that they see this as a perfect opportunity to sell their voodoo medicine.

A drunken adventure of 2 women infiltrating the creationist Discovery Institute and get a personal tour from Casey Luskin – Here is the first installment, the second installment, and the third installment. The fourth and final installment is yet to come, Look for it any day now at Enemy Combatant: Trailmix Appreciation Club.

WHO’S MAKING JESUS CRY NOW?

Whiny Christians suing over statue of Jesus with an erectionThis sounds kinda familiar. Yeah, once again, Christians are trying to infringe on others’ freedoms to censor art that offends their delicate little feelings. I wrote about this playing the victim tactics last year. It’s the same old story. They’re even employing the ever popular “They wouldn’t have dared do this to Mohammed” gambit:

“Mrs Mapfuwa, of Brentwood, said Baltic would not have dared depict Mohammed in such a way.”

Oh yes they would! And I’m reminded of the last time a Christian pulled out this old song. It was Rod Dreher hypocritically expressing his disgust over PZ Myers desecrating the communion wafer and a copy of the Quran after daring him to desecrate a copy of the Quran as well (the only reason Myers ended up including the Quran in the desecration).

The Carl Sagan Institute of UFOlogy? – WTF! These nuts claim not only that Jesus is a flying saucer pilot but that Sagan was a secret believer in alien visitations. And they want your money. If Sagan were here I’m sure he’d say:

“Yes, the world would be a more interesting place if there were UFOs lurking in the deep waters off Bermuda and eating ships and planes, or if dead people could take control of our hands and write us messages. It would be fascinating if adolescents were able to make telephone handsets rocket off their cradles just by thinking at them, or if our dreams could, more often than can be explained by chance and our knowledge of the world, accurately foretell the future. These are all instances of pseudoscience” (Carl Sagan, “The Demon-Haunted World”).

ResearchBlogging.org – This is an aggregator for blogging about peer-reviewed scientific research and makes for an excellent resource.

More red flags to look out for to avoid sham medical treatments

Getting de-baptized – In Italy, a group called the Italian Union of Rationalists and Agnostics (UAAR) has taken it upon themselves to help people get debaptized.

In the wake of Hurricane Gustav, atheists (just like religious people) are eager to help residents of the deep south affected by this disaster.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE

Forecast – It’s going to be another bad day for creationists, especially Young Earth Creationists

Investigating Origin Of Life Using Computers – “Scientists at Penn State have developed a new computational method that they say will help them to understand how life began on Earth. The team’s method has the potential to trace the evolutionary histories of proteins all the way back to either cells or viruses, thus settling the debate once and for all over which of these life forms came first.”

Person’s Geographic Origins Located From DNA – “One day soon, you may be able to pinpoint the geographic origins of your ancestors based on analysis of your DNA.”

Genetic Link To Relationship Difficulties Found – “Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have found a link between a specific gene and the way men bond to their partners. The results, which are presented in the scientific journal PNAS, can lead to a better understanding of such problems as autism and social phobia.”

Bonobos May Have Greater Linguistic Skills – “The findings, published this month in the Journal of Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, indicate that bonobos may exhibit larger linguistic competency in ordinary conversation than in controlled experimental settings.”

Prehistoric Funerary Found In Northern Israel – “Hebrew University excavations in the north of Israel have revealed a prehistoric funerary precinct dating back to 6,750-8,500 BCE.” And yes, they include phallic figurines. Yea!

Origin Of Cosmic Dust That Lands On Earth – “The origin of the microscopic meteorites that make up cosmic dust has been revealed for the first time in new research out September 1, 2008.”

Thawing Permafrost To Boost Global Warming? – “A new assessment more than doubles previous estimates of the amount of carbon stored in permafrost, and indicates that carbon dioxide emissions from microbial decomposition of organic carbon in thawing permafrost could amount to roughly half those resulting from global land-use change during this century.”

Illusion Isn’t Always Just In The Mind – “An illusion that tricks people into believing a rubber hand belongs to them isn’t all in the mind, Oxford University researchers have found. They have observed a physical response as well, a finding that offers insight into conditions which affect a patient’s sense of self and body ownership, such as stroke, schizophrenia, autism, or eating disorders.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 7.28.08

July 29, 2008

The One and Universal Smokers Church of God -Yes, that’s right. There’s now a church devoted to smoking, which cafe owners have embraced to get around Dutch smoking bans. Because of course there aren’t enough churches already.

15 Films that Offended Religious Groups. -And ironically none of them was Deliver Us From Evil, the documentary which focused on a Catholic priest who raped hundreds of children and which the church conspired to cover up and help escape justice. Why would that offend them?

Discovery Institute nailed by Hitchens -After Christopher Hitchens talked about blind cave organisms and how they argue against linear progression in evolution, The Discovery Institute fired back with this best explanation. And well, their best explanation was pretty awful. This round goes to Hitchens.

Virgin Mary in sari and Joseph in loincloth and turban -Did I miss that chapter of The Bible? Well, George Carlin was right. The businessman doesn’t hold a candle to the religious. These are the tactics of the people who know the word of god? Really? Suddenly god’s looking like a used car salesman.

The Leviticus Challenge -Pastor Daniel Harrell of Boston’s Park Street Church decided to specifically follow the book (since it’s so often ignored in church) and have others do it with him. But what about all the stuff Leviticus is known for that talk about gays, avoiding women who menstruate, and animal sacrifices? Oh, they’re ignoring that part. Afterall, nobody expects someone who says they’re going to follow the entire book of Leviticus to actually follow the entire book of Leviticus. Don’t be silly. Have you read that thing?

Some intelligent design, huh -God must be getting sloppy in his old age. Behold! The Pig Monkey! Kinda cute. The article doesn’t mention any name for it, so I’ll make a suggestion. How about Ken Ham?

And now a moment of science:

‘Feeling’ Robots Learn To Read Human Emotions -“European researchers are developing robots in tune with our emotions. Feelix Growing is developing software empowering robots that can learn when a person is sad, happy or angry.”


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