Happy Atheist Pride Day & Happy Vernal Equinox

March 19, 2009

scarletletter_outI reported about Atheist Pride Day a few days ago here. Follow the link if you wish to know more about it and how you can participate. But something that I forgot to mention was that it coincides with the vernal equinox (probably not by accident). Today (Friday) is the first day of spring, which reminds me of an old myth that you can only balance an egg on the vernal equinox. This is a myth that Phil Plait debunks here:


Bad Astronomy picked as one of Time.com’s 25 Best Blogs of 2009

February 17, 2009

Congrats Phil. I’m especially excited because they excerpted a clip of him blasting antivaccinationists. Unfortunately, Time.com also gave the insufferably anti-vaccination Huffington Post too.


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.20.08

October 21, 2008

CREATIONIST NEWS:

Something rotten in the state of Kentucky? – Northern Kentucky University is going to have a mock trial on the creation/evolution debate. But is this just an exercise to study the issue or just another misguided attempt to suggest science and faith are on equal footing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: any debate where one side is expected to provide evidence for its ever claim while the other side simply gets to use the faith card is a farce.

And here’s 1 creationist’s response to the creationist debate in Kentucky, led by Dr. Ben Scripture – It’s your standard argument from authority combined with a straw man.

And here’s a great video that summarizes the creationist clusterfuck in the Texas Board of Education along with detailed information about who these Evolution deniers are:

Either Abbie Smith’s psychic or Expelled is guilty of a fraudulent poll – Further proof that Ben Stein is not using Clear Eyes.

ABORTION NEWS:

Poor turn out at atheist rally in Colorado – The rally was meant to protest an upcoming amendment that would legally define life as beginning at conception and effectively define abortion as murder. Over 100,000 Conservative Christians had signed off to get the amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot and yet only dozens of opponents of this insane amendment bothered to show up to protest it. I am deeply disappointed.

The 40 Days for Life campaign against abortion -

The 40 Days for Life campaign, a period of fasting and prayer to save babies from abortion, is in its final two weeks.

Unfortunately, they’re also harassing and intimidating women who visit health clinics as well as protesting and proselytizing. Aurora Jewell had a wonderful line about what Planned Parenthood does on a regular basis:

“We’re doing more in one day to prevent unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion than these people are doing in 40 days.”

WHAT’S THE HARM?

Joe Lastinger interviewed about the tragic loss of his 3 and-a-half year-old daughter to influenza – You can listen to the interview here. Yeah, we have tragic stories and emotional appeals on our side too.

Evan Bernstein explains what’s the harm in believing that space aliens are visiting our planet in UFOs – Just one example is you accept that something unreal is real, and before you know it, you wind up believing in all sorts of things that are untrue. In some cases, people have lost their entire fortunes sinking them in to irrational beliefs. And in some cases, like with the Heaven’s Gate cultists, it has cost people their lives.

STOP JENNY NEWS:

Dr. Phil Plait

Dr. Phil Plait

Dr. Phil Plait has plugged the site – Thanks Phil. You remain on my awesome list.

Also, we have been contacted by a MAJOR organization in the popular news media who is interested in interviewing us. I don’t want to mention the name yet but if anything comes of this, I’ll certainly keep you all updated.

Dr. Jay Gordon

Dr. Jay Gordon

An excellent overview of antivaccinationist Dr. Jay Gordon’s logical fallacies – It’s all here. And here’s more debunking of Gordon’s claims. For those who don’t know, Dr. Jay Gordon wrote the forward for Jenny McCarthy’s book.

Carbon nanotubes: the material of the future! -

These little cylinders of carbon molecules can be used to make materials that are lighter, stronger, and sexier than just about anything else we have.

Summary of studies showing sex is good for you – Take that abstinence-only sex education!

Yes, these kinds of people still exist in the United States in the 21st Century:

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Scientists Create ‘World’s Most Relaxing Room’ – “Psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman has designed and constructed a large-scale multi-media space that aims to calm even the most stressed out of minds.” Gotta love Wiseman. His book Quirkology is included on my booklist on the right side of the screen.

Bird Flu Vaccine Protects People And Pets – “A single vaccine could be used to protect chickens, cats and humans against deadly flu pandemics, according to an article published in the November issue of the Journal of General Virology. The vaccine protects birds and mammals against different flu strains and can even be given to birds while they are still in their eggs, allowing the mass vaccination of wild birds.”

Dinosaur Dance Floor: Tracks At Jurassic Oasis – “University of Utah geologists identified an amazing concentration of dinosaur footprints that they call “a dinosaur dance floor,” located in a wilderness on the Arizona-Utah border where there was a sandy desert oasis 190 million years ago.”

Finding Hidden Tomb Of Genghis Khan – “According to legend, Genghis Khan lies buried somewhere beneath the dusty steppe of Northeastern Mongolia, entombed in a spot so secretive that anyone who made the mistake of encountering his funeral procession was executed on the spot.

Once he was below ground, his men brought in horses to trample evidence of his grave, and just to be absolutely sure he would never be found, they diverted a river to flow over their leader’s final resting place.

What Khan and his followers couldn’t have envisioned was that nearly 800 years after his death, scientists at UC San Diego’s Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) would be able to locate his tomb using advanced visualization technologies whose origins can be traced back to the time of the Mongolian emperor himself.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.10.08

October 11, 2008

Indian censors say no to condom and yes to sex – By Bollywood standards, just the make-out scene in the new movie Hello featuring former Miss India and Maxim model Gul Panag is risqué. But what India’s Censor Board is really upset about is that in the scene, Panag and actor Sharman Joshi are fooling around and Panag’s character asks her partner if he has a condom.

Catholicism: The Cause of Needless Suffering – Washington state has a ballot measure coming up that would make it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication for the terminally ill. Pope Ratzinger approves, saying people must accept death at “the hour chosen by God.” So I guess The Pope doesn’t seeks doctors or medical treatment of any kind, right?

Jeremy Hall withdraws his suit – Jeremy Hall, who had previously filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, has now voluntarily withdrawn it. Earlier, he had stated that he was denied a promotion and prevented from holding a meeting for fellow atheists. He had also received a death threat from another soldier. Those charges still stand. However, since Hall is planning on leaving the Army in the spring, he dropped the lawsuit (PDF).

Parents outraged by pro-Islam baby doll:

A doll some are claiming utters pro-Islam and even satanic messages has outraged parents in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

Well, which is it? Pro-Islam or satanic ? Or is this just one fickle doll? Well, it turns out to be, like with EVPs, just an example of auditory pareidolia. If you don’t know what you’re supposed to be hearing then you either just hear random-sounding noise or you hear something else. Listen for yourself here.

Lisa: “Don’t you people see anything wrong what Malibu Stacy says?”
Celeste: “There’s something wrong with what my Stacy says…” [Pull's string]
Stacy: “My spidey sense is tingling… anybody call for a web-slinger?”

As I was going to Saint Ives,
I met a rabbi with seven wives.
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kittens,
Kittens, cats, sacks, wives,
How many were going to Saint Ives?

Times Online article on the “ex-gay movement”

Another day, another preacher caught collecting kiddie porn:

A deacon will likely preach Sunday at Oswegatchie First Baptist Church in the aftermath of the resignation of the Rev. Merton E. Parks, who admits he downloaded child pornography from sites on the Internet.

DNA proves virgin birth in Virginia? - Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water–Shark Messiah! Amateur Scientist calls it Jawsus.

The Plant Liberation Front – Switzerland scientists there must now justify the ethics of genetic research on plants.

Death From The Skies! – Now available on Amazon and fine bookstores everywhere.

Skepbitch gets a personal tour of the JREF by James “The Amazing” Randi himself.

Ray “The Banana Guy” Comfort declares the economic crisis is a sign of the End Times! – I’m sure he’s not the only religious nut making this leap. And of course, when the crisis has abated (after the landslide Democratic victory on November 4), they’ll conveniently forget that once again, THEY WERE WRONG! But of course the real problem is that these religious kooks are looking forward to disaster and the end of the world. This is what Bill Maher’s talking about in Religulous. They want the apocalypse to happen and some will stop at nothing to ensure that it does.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Warming Threats To Tropical Rainforest Species – “Contrary to conventional wisdom, tropical plant and animal species living in some of the warmest places on Earth may be threatened by global warming, according to an article by University of Connecticut Ecologist Robert K. Colwell and colleagues the journal Science.”

Skeptologist Dr. Kirsten Stanford presents The Science Word for 10.10.09.



News From Around The Blogosphere 9.12.08

September 13, 2008

PALIN TV:

Palin on abortion, guns, gays, and stem-cell research:

Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann:

Co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and former Assembly of God preacher (Palin’s denomination) Dan Barker sheds some light on the church’s theology. BTW, Dan Barker’s new book, Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, is now available!

Gina Gershon Parodies Sarah Palin here.

Comedian Doug Stanhope is SAVING BRISTOL.

CREATIONIST NEWS:

cdesign proponentsists are yet again claiming their “scientists” were fired by the evil “Darwinist” authorities. I suspect it’s as much a load of shit as all the other alleged firings of teachers because they didn’t accept “the religion of atheism.”

Reverend Professor Michael Reis, Director of Education at the Royal Society in the UK wants to “teach the controversy. Also, timesonline.com covered the story and included this gem of a quote:

‘”Just because something lacks scientific support doesn’t seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from a science lesson.

Well actually, IT IS!

Greek hackers attack the Large Hadron Collider – It’s really kinda fucked up that had they done any real damage they could have set back major scientific discoveries of our universe by many years.

Age of Autism, in traditional delusional fashion, ignores the constant onslaught of conflicting evidence to declare this year a great year for their movement – Here is their Top 10 reasons why. Notice that not one of the items on the list has anything whatsoever to do with medical research findings or actual evidence for their case–just their PR campaigns. And after naming Jenny McCarthy’s activities number 1 on the list, in a delicious bit of unintentional irony, they declare Amanda Peet’s comments against them a victory for them because — WAIT FOR IT. WAIT FOR IT:

“Soon after Paul Offit announces Every Child By Two’s newly planned PR initiative involving Amanda Peet, a vapid actress with no dog in the fight, what happens?”

Wow! And they stupidly reveal their plans for misinformation for the next several months to help us prepare better to counter their arguments. Thank you Age of Autism! And thank you, mommy instinct!

Joe Rogan: comedian and all around conspiracy nut – It turns out he’s a moon-hoaxer. And even though Phil Plait owned his ass on Penn Jillette’s radio show, Rogan’s decalring it a victory. You know, I used to like the guy. I saw a clip from YouTube of him demolishing the arguments of a creationist who believed in the Noah’s Ark story. Then I started to come across his videos promoting the use of psychodelic drugs to experience “altered consciousness” and gain a greater understanding of the universe. Altered consciousness? Give me a break! It’s called CAUSING BRAIN DAMAGE! And it’s not something you should be doing often. The hallucinations are the result of your brain when it no worky so good. So I should have guessed that this red flag would lead him to some conspiracy nonsense. It had to have been either the moon hoaxer, 9/11 Falser, Ickeist, or New World Order crackpot.

Okay, so Joe isn’t doing heroin but I love this old PSA:

UFOs to reach the Alabama on October 14th? – That’s what Australian actress, writer, and part-time “psychic channeler” Blossom Goodchild. I can see the post-hoc rationalizations to explain away an epic fail already.

When religion interferes with medical education:

“The BMA said it had received reports of Muslim students who did not want to learn anything about alcohol or the effects of overconsumption. “They are so opposed to the consumption of it they don’t want to learn anything about it,” said a spokesman.”

“The GMC said it had received requests for guidance over whether students could “omit parts of the medical curriculum and yet still be allowed to graduate”. Professor Peter Rubin, chairman of the GMC’s education committee, said: “Examples have included a refusal to see patients who are affected by diseases caused by alcohol or sexual activity, or a refusal to examine patients of a particular gender.”

“Some Muslim medical students are refusing to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs.

Some trainee doctors say learning to treat the diseases conflicts with their faith, which states that Muslims should not drink alcohol and rejects sexual promiscuity.

A small number of Muslim medical students have even refused to treat patients of the opposite sex. One male student was prepared to fail his final exams rather than carry out a basic examination of a female patient.”

WTF!

BEHOLD! The poster for Bill Maher’s upcoming film “Religulous.”

American Atheists Names New President – It’s a shame Ellen Johnson stepped down (or was forced to step down–who knows?) But hopefully Dr. Ed Buckner will prove to be a good replacement.

Oh my GOD! He’s really not coming?

The real secret behind crop circles

And click here to see a whole new side of global warming. I would have included the photo on this page but it’s copyrighted.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Extinct Species Had Huge Teeth On Roof Of Mouth – “When the world’s land was congealed in one supercontinent 240 million years ago, Antarctica wasn’t the forbiddingly icy place it is now. But paleontologists have found a previously unknown amphibious predator species that probably still made it less than hospitable.”

Good Luck Gave Dinosaurs Their Edge – “The researchers examined the evolutionary pattern of dinosaurs and crurotarsans in the Late Triassic. Using a very large dataset of anatomical characters – nearly 500 features of the skeleton – and a new family tree of the entire archosaur group, they measured evolutionary rates and morphological disparity (a measurement of the range of different body plans and lifestyles that a group has). They found no difference in the rates at which dinosaurs and crurotarsans were evolving. This was surprising as, if dinosaurs were truly ‘superior’ or ‘out-competing’ crurotarsans in the Triassic, they should be expected to evolve faster. Instead, crurotarsans were keeping pace.”

Robot Scout: Fly Me (Safely) To The Moon – “Keller is deputy project scientist for a robotic scout that will reduce the risk that comes with these daring landings – NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. “LRO’s instruments will work together to build a complete, detailed picture of potential landing sites,” says Keller.”

Nano-sized ‘Cargo Ships’ To Destroy Tumors – “Scientists have developed nanometer-sized ‘cargo ships’ that can sail throughout the body via the bloodstream without immediate detection from the body’s immune radar system and ferry their cargo of anti-cancer drugs and markers into tumors that might otherwise go untreated or undetected.”


Vote Plait ’08

August 14, 2008

Seriously, is this whole news story a joke? Apparently, according to this news site what began as a humorous internet joke has spawned a grassroots movement to elect a mysterious “Phil Plait” president of the United States. You’d think the reporters would have been able to attach this mysterious “Phil Plait” to JREF’s own newly appointed president Phil Plait given his wide internet following. And since they know who started the campaign, couldn’t they have just asked her who Phil Plait was? She couldn’t possibly have meant another Phil Plait, could she?  Well Phil, you got my vote.


New JREF President starting to look the part

August 7, 2008

Dr. Phil Plait has posted follow-up on his assuming the role of President of the James Randi Education Foundation, which includes an awesome picture of him as James Randi:

+ =

And kudos to Phil for also providing another great criticism of the anti-vaccine movement along with a link to some of the evidence that proves how demonstrably wrong they are.


News From Around The Blogosphere 8.4.08

August 5, 2008

The hidden drugs in supplements and Coca Cola maybe returning to the woo in which it came -Last week a trucker, Michael Berggren, fell asleep at the wheel. Routine blood screening turned up estazolam – a strong and addictive sedative in the benzodiazempine class of drugs (the same class as valium). Estazolam is not commonly sold in the US or Canada so this presented a bit of a mystery. It turns out that Berggren was likely getting the drug, unknowingly, in an herbal supplement he was taking called Eden Herbal Formulations Serenity II Pills.

Scientist and skeptic Jeff Medkeff 1968-2008 -I regret to report that Blue Collar Scientist has lost his struggle with cancer and that he died last night.

Franklin Institute in Philadelphia dumbing down science? -This is the second time recently I’ve heard criticism of the Franklin Institute’s focus on cheap movie tie-ins while divorcing itself from real science. I hope to keep my eye out for follow-up stories.

Saudi religious police officer accused of going 2 over the limit–wives that is -This Saudi officer had 6–that’s right, 6 wives. That’s 2 over the legal limit under sharia law. I don’t see why he’s only accused of having 6 wives. Seems like he either does or he doesn’t. Oddly, I can’t find the man’s name anywhere.

Phil Plait has been named the new James Randi -Phil is the new president of the James Randi Educational Foundation! Randi is now Chairman of the JREF Board of Directors and will have more time to finish his next two books. Phil says he’ll focus on the E in JREF by producing educational materials for kids. He’s got my vote of confidence. Here’s Phil’s response to the historical news.

Fence & garage at Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church caught fire -Couldn’t happen to nicer people [sarcasm overload]. Hopefully, this won’t turn out to be arson…though if it is, that that be a lessen for people: being an ass makes you lots of enemies. These are the infamous “God Hates Fags” guys. But the most hated family in America deserves ridicule, not violence. One good thing I can say about them is that they make my job as an atheist activist and skeptic a lot easier. They’re too extreme to gain many converts and are seen  more as a sideshow act that entertains and amuses than a genuine threat. And while they’ve obscenely picketed funerals, they’ve never used violence. Not surprisingly, other Christian fundamentalists despise them despite the fact that guys like Pat Robertson preach pretty much the same message. The only discernible difference I can see is that the Phelps’ protest funerals to get media attention to come to them while Robertson preaches the same things on his own weekly (or daily?) TV show that reaches a larger audience.

Rod Dreher’s hypocrisy over Crackergate exposed -This is just a beautiful pwning by PZ Myers. Rarely does a non-politician have their own past statements come back to haunt them and reveal their total and complete duplicity so effectively. Thanks PZ!

Picture of PZ’s communion wafer in the trash.

Terrorist Bombing in the name of animal rights? -I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan though I have friends who are. None of them commit violence in the name of animal rights. Stories like this really make me want to include some animal rights groups with other forms of delusional cults. It probably doesn’t completely cross over into total lunacy as people seem to often present fairly rational motives for their life style decision but I’d say it’s on the border. The really activist animal rights people are indistinguishable from the religious wackos when they promote their propaganda in public parks. I don’t know. Domesticated animals wouldn’t even survive in the wild if we did let them go. But maybe I just don’t get it. Here’s another another opinion on this story.

HPV vaccination misinformation and bias in Medscape? -David Gorsky write: “The article could have been a fair assessment of whether the risks of Gardasil are higher than reported. “Could have” is the operative phrase. Unfortunately, in among the real scientists quoted (and quoted rather selectively, I might add), Gandey parroted back a whole lot of antivaccination nonsense and a misunderstanding. I expect far better from Medscape. Unfortunately, this time I did not get it. For example, there was this howler from Gandey’s report.” Here’s Orac’s take on this issue.

‘Jesus Sucks Banner called a Human Rights violation? -I blogged about this story last week. This latest update just strikes me as a totally over the top reaction to a silly, childish stunt. If you’re the type of person who thinks this is a legal matter then you’ve got bigger problems than the degree in which your imaginary friend sucks.

Blow Me Up, Scotty! -The private rocket, Falcon, carrying 3 experimental satellites and the ashes of actor James Doohan, best known for his role as Scotty on Star Trek, unexpectedly exploded. Unfortunately, Doohan’s ashes never made into space where they were to be scattered in the Earth’s orbit in accordance with his wishes. It sucks that those wishes will now never be fulfilled. As Scotty would have said, “We canna do it! We don’t have the power!”

And now for a moment of science:

Little Teeth: Big Jump In Primate Timeline? -“Tiny fossilized teeth excavated from an Indian open-pit coal mine could be the oldest Asian remains ever found of anthropoids, the primate lineage of today’s monkeys, apes and humans, say researchers from Duke University and the Indian Institute of Technology.”

Bird Could Rewrite ‘Ring Theory’ Of Speciation -“New research has uncovered how different populations of the bird crimson rosella are related to each other – a discovery which has important implications for research into how climate change may affect Australia’s biodiversity.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 7.31.08

August 1, 2008

Doctor Bashing -Another great post from Steven Novella. Here, he discusses anti-doctor sentiments that seem to be growing in our culture of late.

Dead Monster washes ashore in Montauk- Oo, I’m a sucker for a good monster sighting. Gawker speculates it’s some sort of viral marketing, and I’m inclined to agree. Though PigMonkey turned out to be real.

10 things to scratch from your worry list-Next time people tell you science is dogmatic and unwilling to change, point them to this page here. Science is constantly testing itself and being revised. Okay, now it’s the creationists’ turn to show their not dogmatic.

Why’d it have to be snakes? -PZ Myers looks at how venomous snakes and their fangs evolved.

PZ Myers’ review of Kenneth Miller’s ‘Only A Theory’ -I’m a big fan of Kenneth Miller. I can’t think of anyone who does a better job at demolishing the claims of cdesign proponentsists. And his Catholicism has always made a strong defense against accusations that Evolution is just “the religion of atheism” as the propaganda often claims. But Miller’s Catholicism is simultaneously a problem since the implications of Evolution seem to legitimately and powerfully point science away from supernatural explanations and towards natural ones. Miller, who knows more about Evolution than I’ll probably ever know, still clings to a supernatural creator even though he’s clearly able to effortlessly defeat Intelligent Design arguments. As a result, he sets himself up for criticism on both sides. Though he makes a great example of a scientist who believes in god who isn’t “Expelled” from scientific institutions, I’m hoping for the day he finally embraces a more atheistic philosophy. He’s a brilliant critic of cdesign proponentsists now. As an intellectually honest atheist, he’d be unstoppable.

Phil Plait tastes something funky in this Martian water rumor -There was a widely reported rumor that today NASA was going to announce that they’d discovered water ice on Mars. Of course, had they not already discovered water ice on Mars a while ago, this might have been a big story. Unfortunately, for the news media, this discovery was already made a while ago. Even my mother mentioned it to me.

1/3 of Brits are gullible? -Roughly 35% of Brits polled believe the moon landing was faked! I don’t think that’s possible. And since I don’t know any of the details about the poll such as how many people were polled, who was polled, what were the questions, etc. I’m thinking this is probably not correct. Then again, a U.S. poll found that allegedly 25% of Americans don’t know the Earth revolves around the sun, so who knows? And here’s an awesome trailer for the August 27th episode of Mythbusters addressing Moon Hoaxers:

New Evidence for Big Foot? -Wow! Two cryptozoological stories in one day! I could not resist posting this one. Still no sign of Skepacabra’s brother Chupacabra though. So keep your eyes peeled.

So what’s the deal with secondhand smoke? -This is an issue in which I’m personally not up on science. Growing up I thought the secondhand smoke claims sounded exaggerated. They probably were considerably to fight the tobacco companies. The tobacco companies pretty undeniably evil and repulsive. Though I think the science today is showing that secondhand smoke is harmful, though probably not as harmful as we were once led to believe. So this is an issue I need to spend some time researching one of these days and make an informed position but this article above is worth looking at.

More on the effects of tobacco poisoning -Here’s another interesting smoking-related article.

Interview with Candace Chellew-Hodge, Gay-Friendly Pastor -Definitely an interesting interview worth checking out.

Amazon Expedition – “Take your kids on an Amazon Expedition! Explore the “Seven C’s of History” while teaching them that the Bible is the true history book of the universe. From dinosaurs to Noah’s Flood, and so much more, kids and leaders alike will enjoy their best Vacation Bible School ever!” Yeah, this is what Answers in Genesis is teaching children, that it’s historically proven that the world was magically poofed into existence in 6 days, that an evil magic talking snake tricked human beings into eating a magic apple, that a 900 year old alcoholic saved all life on Earth by building a wooden boat large enough to sustain them all and stay a float, etc. This is why we fight. And in case you were wondering what those “Seven C’s of History” are:

The 5-day, Amazon Expedition VBS includes:

Day 1: Creation—Destination Creation Day 2: Corruption—The Fall of All Day 3: Catastrophe—Water, Water Everywhere Day 4: Confusion—The Babel Rabble Day 5: Christ, Cross, Consummation— Sad Turns to Glad

And now a moment of science:

Stem Cells Created From ALS Patient’s Skin -“Harvard and Columbia scientists have for the first time used a new technique to transform an ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) patient’s skin cells into motor neurons, a process that may be used in the future to create tailor-made cells to treat the debilitating disease.”

2,000-year-old Astronomical Computer Decoded -“Cardiff University experts have led an international team in unravelling the secrets of a 2,000-year-old computer which could transform the way we think about the ancient world.”

New Genetic Variations Found In Schizophrenia -“People with schizophrenia bear an “increased burden” of rare deletions and duplications of genetic material, genome-wide, say researchers supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”

Vaccine To Protect Against Black Plague -“A University of Central Florida researcher may have found a defense against the Black Plague, a disease that wiped out a third of Europe’s population in the Middle Ages and which government agencies perceive as a terrorist threat today.” Vaccines–is there anything they can’t do? Well, I guess they can’t cause autism, but other than that…


News From Around The Blogosphere 7.30.08

July 31, 2008

There’s still no planet Starbucks but they can name a species -Remember that old sham years ago (it’s probably still around) where you were told that for a little money, you could get a star named after you or someone you loved? Well, that was bogus and in many cases the star you named didn’t even exist. But for the right price, you CAN name a new small species. Just don’t pick one of the names that are already names of species like: Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe, the members of the Sex Pistols, or the fish species dubbed beeblebroxi, a tribute to the character Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And finally, there’s actually an species named: GoldenPalace.com.

Is that the Virgin Mary on your restaurant floor drain or just rust?

-Classic case of pareidolia. I’m sure it’s not as tasty as the Virgin Mary on the grilled cheese sandwich:

Oh, and on a related note, here’s Jesus Cat:

Jesus Sucks -That’s according to a television comedy show host who commissioned to have an airplane fly across Toronto while waving a banner with those two words printed on it. Of course many Christians with no sense of humor are deeply offended.

Astrologer fails to predict Earthquake–there’s a shock for you:

Just when you thought it was safe to defile crackers again… -This really is the story that won’t die. Crackergate is back on! PZ Myers responds to another set of religious yahoos who can’t accept that we don’t have to show respect for their dopey sacred cows and that’s just the way the cracker crumbles.

Karl Giberson talks gibberish

-I know. I know. It was the best title I could think of at the time. Anyway, here PZ Myers presents his rebuttal of Giberson’s claim that atheist activists are fundamentalists of the religion of science. Yeah, like we never heard that shite before. It’s all part of the creationist Orwellian strategy of framing:

Religion is Science
Science is Religion

I’m calling bullshit!

Phil Plait’s follow-up comments about Ed Mitchell & the UFO believers -Phil addresses the logical fallacies of those who responded negatively to his blog about Apollo 14 Astronaut Ed Mitchell’s claims (also reported on here at Skepacabra) that he knows for certain that space aliens have been to Earth and that the government is covering it up.

Anti-vacciner booth infiltrate Netroots Nation -These vampires are everywhere. Perhaps it’s advisable to always carry a wooden stake and cloves of garlic for just this sort of occasion.

Most & Least Religious Colleges in the U.S. 2008 -Damn, NYU didn’t make the list of least religious! I thought I left a better impression. Oh well, at least New School, where I gained my graduate degree is on the list.

How Real Science Works -A great article that tries to demystify this strange thing we call science. So how does science work? I’ll give you a hint. It requires a lot of hard work and does not work by making shit up. Sorry creationists.

RationalWiki to the rescue -This is a great source of skeptical inquiry. Check it out.

And now a moment of science:

Did Dinosaur Soft Tissues Still Survive? -New research challenges suggests that the supposed recovered dinosaur tissue is in reality biofilm – or slime. Sorry again, creationists.

Possible ‘Sleep Gene’ Identified In Fruit Flies -In a recent study of fruit flies, researchers identified a gene that controls sleep.

Lost An Appendage? Grow Another -Understanding the molecular pathway responsible for limb regeneration in some animals is a research objective for MBL investigator William R. Jeffery, a former director of the MBL Embryology course and professor of biology at the University of Maryland.


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