Ray Comfort to actually contribute science and reason?

February 25, 2009

As everyone knows, Ray Comfort is a media whore. In fact, on the scale of media whoredom, he’s somewhere in between the Westboro Baptist Church and PETA. And lately, as I’ve blogged before, the big banana’s been doing more more whoring than usual with the release of his old–err, I mean his new book (sorry, I got confused since all the arguments were the same) on Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. What are the odds?! Ray’s also been promoting his new website, Pull the Plug on Atheist, which clearly is not just an ill-conceived attempt to get a rise out of atheists and those who subscribe to evolution.

Now a recent news story that I don’t think I blogged about because I wanted to avoid giving The Banana Man the publicity that he craves so much involved Ray offering to pay PZ Myers to engage in a public debate. Having debated a sneaky, duplicitous Comfort before on the radio and not wanting to further the perception that creationism was something that is worthy of even being debated at all, Myers declined Comfort’s request.

Well now, Comfort is offered to pay Richard Dawkins $10,000 to debate him.

Dawkins has a counter-offer: he’ll do it for $100,000, to be donated to the RDF. Comfort has now upped the ante to $20,000. It’s not enough.

. . .

Not only would creationists have finally done something productive and contributed to the promulgation of reason for once, but the spectacle of this debate would be a source of endless hilarity for years to come.

Richard does have a few other requests: that Comfort reprise his banana argument, and that the event would have to be recorded by the RDF team, for the enlightenment of the world. It’s not too much to ask.

I am reminded of YouTube user Thunderf00t’s superb rejection of Youtube creationist VenomFangX’s request for a formal debate:

I’m also reminded of this:

Ray Comfort misses the point once again

February 1, 2009

Ray Comfort comments on the video that made him (in)famous to atheists online:

I was introduced on a radio interview recently as being “internationally hated by atheists.”

To what do I attribute this great honor? Obviously, to my dumb banana video. It spread my name like soft and tasteless butter all over the world. And so I have this unique and wonderful blog that is frequented by atheists. I never thought that I would some day thank God for that stupid video, but I do.

What he doesn’t understand is that it isn’t “internationally hated by atheists.” On the contrary, every time I rewatch that video I actually give it 5 stars. People who actually understand science and despise creationism LOVE Ray’s little banana video because it illustrates the collosal stupidity of creationism far better than even YouTube user Thunderf00t’s great “Why People Laugh At Creationists” video series. I have to think that that video single-handedly made Ray and Kirk Cameron embarrassments even to the larger creationist movement. I really can’t imagine that Casey Luskin or Michael Behe are too happy about this video floating around. While they’re idiots in their own right, next to Comfort and Cameron they come off as geniuses.

I’ve seen even people who aren’t very knowledgeable about science stumble upon the video and actually recommending it to me because it made them laugh their asses off.

So no, Ray. We don’t hate the video. The video actually makes our point for us better than we ever could.

And as if it were even necessary, here’s a video that debunk’s arguably the stupidest creationist argument ever:

News From Around The Blogosphere 01.23.09

January 24, 2009

Obama already bringing science back - Not only has the Food and Drug Administration approved clinical trials for treating spinal cord patients with embryonic stem cells but he’s reversing a lot of Bush blunders.

Pennsylvania man considers bank error a “gift from God” – Uh, that’s not a gift.  That’s stealing from the bank.

Jerry Coyne officially a member of the New Atheist club - Coyne has written a lengthy piece in The New Republic that comes down hard on the pro-evolution books written by theistic scientists Karl Giberson and Ken Miller. Now even though I agree that the brilliant Stephen J. Gould was wrong in declaring science and religion different magistia to avoid taking the kind of hard anti-religious stance that Richard Dawkins has, I’ve always given Ken Miller a pass because I like and respect him in addition to think that he is possibly the best critic against “Intelligent Design” that we have. But intellectually I agree with Coyne that science and religion just cannot be reconciled.

Here is a video of Ken Miller smoking creationists in a debate better than anyone I’ve ever seen and also later referencing his religious faith:

Creationism’s big banana himself Ray Comfort challenges PZ Myers to another dual – Does that make this a rematch?

Evidence we live in a holographic reality? Whoa! - Okay, probably not. But this is interesting all the same.


Scientists from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan have successfully teleported quantum information between two separate atoms in unconnected enclosures a meter apart. Here’s Science Daily’s report on it.

Honk if you love quantum entanglement.


Aging Secret In Genetically Altered Fruit Fly – “Brown University researchers have identified a cellular mechanism that could someday help fight the aging process.

The finding by Stephen Helfand and Nicola Neretti and others adds another piece to the puzzle that Helfand, a professor of biology, molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry, first discovered in 2000. Back then, he identified a mutation in the Indy (“I’m Not Dead Yet”) gene that can extend the life span of fruit flies.”

Hear that McCain and Palin? FRUIT FLIES!!!!

News From Around The Blogosphere 01.03.09

January 3, 2009


Age of Autism’s “Reporter of the Year” strikes (out) again – And for confusing change.org for change.gov, David Kirby wins the Worst Fact-Checker EVER Award. This really is no small error when you look at the sites. One is the official site of Obama’s transition team and the other is a political and social networking site with no ties to Obama at all.

Sand of Christ -

“Sand of Christ is a keepsake that has been blessed and made holy by an ordained minister. It is a vial of sand that has been filtered, cleaned and purified, then anointed and blessed through a long and expensive process. The vial is secured in a waterproof metal capsule that has been highly polished by hand. Each one has the cross laser engraved.

. . .

Clearly, we do not make any false promises of magical healing or far-fetched claims. However, Sand of Christ is not a gimmick. Each one is GUARANTEED to be blessed and made holy. As such, we know that each and every one carries the positive power of Christ within its contents.”

Using Rick Warren to raise money for LGBT civil rights – I applaud those who have come up with this idea to raise more money for every second Rick Warren speaks at the Obama inauguration. You can make your pledge here. And I second Friendly Atheist’s suggestion that the Secular Coalition for America should do something similar.

Ray Comfort asks why interbreeding doesn’t work - After writing several books criticizing Evolution, Comfort again proves he doesn’t even understand it. It’s ironic that Ray Comfort is living proof that there is no intelligent designer.

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.


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 10.8.08

October 9, 2008

AcuPRESSURE study showing a reduction in anxiety in children? – Nope. More crap. Fresh off the heels of the media touting a poor acupuncture study and a poor hypnosis study comes this one on acupressure. The effect size was a 9% reduction in anxiety in children versus the 2% from sham acupressure. And apparently they only used 52 test subjects. WOW! Consider me totally unimpressed. Anyway, Orac goes more into the specifics in the link above.

Russian priest reduced to monk for resisting progress and internet

Can I switch seats? – Here’s another gem of blog from everyone’s favorite creationist, Ray “The Banana Guy” Comfort. He describes an exchange he had with the poor guy who happened to be sitting next to him on a plane. And apparently, it didn’t take long before Ray became really, really annoying and invaded the guy’s personal space. One of the things that bugs me about Ray is his use of what can really be called “gotcha” tactics where he attempts to trick someone over something that has absolutely nothing to do with anything in order to get them to admit what they’d happily have admitted in the first place, that they don’t know everything. And then once he gets them to admit this, he asks them if they believe in god, etc. Then no matter what they’re answer is (because even if you say you’re a religious Christian you’re likely not going to believe exactly as Ray), he’s still going to bug you. If you say you don’t believe in the heaven and hell thing because, you know, it’s insane then he tries to get around that in a sleazy, lawyery kind of way by asking to just imagine it does exist; do you think you’re a good person? Everyone will say yes. Then he goes through his, “have you ever told a lie” gambit (even though nowhere in the bible does it quantify how many sins make one unworthy of heaven) and tries to get the person to accept Jesus to avoid a hell they don’t believe in anyway. And because most people want to avoid conflict the guy put up with Ray for the whole flight just to be nice and Ray doesn’t even get that. He just considers it all in a day’s work. No, it’s just sleazy and annoying. And Ray’s actually encouraging his drones to do it too wherever they go. Please just let the people watch the shitty in-flight movie in peace.


Catholic abuse policy:


Atomic View Reveals How Eye’s Retina Works – “An atomic-resolution view of an enzyme found only in the eye has given researchers at the University of Washington (UW) clues about how this enzyme, essential to vision, is activated. The enzyme, phosphodiesterase 6 (PDE6), is central to the way light entering the retina is converted into a cascade of signals to the brain.”

DNA Could Reveal Your Surname – “Scientists at the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester – where the revolutionary technique of genetic fingerprinting was invented by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys — are developing techniques which may one day allow police to work out someone’s surname from the DNA alone.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.29.08

September 30, 2008

The Economist explains why the research regarding possible dangers of cell phones remains inconclusive

David Gorski explains how he became a major critic of the antivaccine crowd & reviews Paul Offit’s book

American purity balls and brainwashing young children – I’ve heard about these before and I find the whole thing extraordinarily creepy and disturbing.


Democrat Kay Hagan pulls ahead of Republican Elizabeth Dole – As you may recall, Dole criticized Hagan almost exactly 1 month ago for having the audacity to meet with secular organizations. . .you know, atheists. So I hope Hagan kicks Dole’s ass.

Hell No, We Won’t Coal – Al Gore is calling on the nation’s youthful, unemployed, and unwashed to commit civil disobedience to stop construction of new coal plants that don’t install carbon capturing technologies. Coal is one of the most plentiful, non-renewable energy resources on the planet and 40% of our electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, but it’s terrible on the environment.


Another absurd creationist rip-off of the Randi Million Dollar Challenge w/ an impossible to reach goalpost – Now it’s the creationist who got Richard Dawkins’ website banned in Turkey has offered:

“10 trillion Turkish lira to anyone who produces a single intermediate-form fossil demonstrating evolution” – a sum roughly equal to £4.4trn.

PZ Myers calculates that to be $8,010,890,000,000. Eight trillion, ten billion, eight hundred and ninety million dollars. Of course creationists have tried this gambit before. The trick is that they’re asking for a single fossil that will prove evolution because they believe (or profess to believe) despite being corrected many, many times that evolution means that individual fossils should resemble some sort of hybrid or chimera like Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort’s classic straw man, The Crocoduck. Evolution can’t be proven with a single fossil because the very nature of evolution requires the comparative analysis of many fossils:

Did Kirk Cameron’s obscure and undoubtedly crappy Christian movie only in limited release do better than the mainstream blockbuster “Eagle Eye?” – Depends on who you ask. If you ask Kirk’s partner in crime, Ray “The Banana Guy” Comfort, then the answer is yes. If you ask any other rational person, the answer is not even close. ON his blog, Ray cites advanced ticket sales:

“In terms of advance sales, Cameron’s Fireproof, an ultra-low-budget marriage-minded family drama opening on about 800 screens, has smoked LaBeouf’s $105 million, opening-everywhere thriller Eagle Eye.

Fireproof accounted for a whopping 40 percent of all advance sales this week on Fandango, the ticket service said today. Eagle Eye was a distant second, representing 17 percent of sales. Through Wednesday, Fireproof was leading the week with 23 percent of all advance sales. No other movie, “Eagle Eye” included, was even in double digits.”

Of course many of the commenters on Ray’s blog pointed out the problems with this so-called victory. Kirk’s little movie got terrible reviews. One commenter reported that “Eagle Eye still made $29.2 million in its opening weekend, compared to Fireproof’s $6.5 million, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations.” Another commenter wrote: “Just what are “advance sales” for films? I’m picturing an organization (an evangelical church perhaps) buying up reams of tickets and telling members to go.” Another wrote, “Why exactly should advance ticket sales through Fandango mean anything? . . . That puts Eagle Eye at $8,305 per theater, and Fireproof at $7,764 per theater. Without even taking into consideration whether Fireproof opened only in areas where it was more likely to do well (and not in those in which the opposite was true), Eagle Eye still did better on a per-theater basis. All you’ve really said is that more people chose to buy advance tickets through Fandango for Fireproof than for Eagle Eye. I assure you, this holds significance for no one except Fandango”

Charlie’s Playhouse – A website that sells Evolution-friendly toys to children.

Mercury Retrograde – a term hijacked by the astrologers


Can tithing hurt you during a financial crisis? – Some Christians are continuing to tithe (give 10% of their income to church) despite not being able to pay their mortgage, once again proving that belief in religion and superstition does great harm.

And another example of what’s the harm:

Here’s Age of Autism’s latest blog:

“If you don’t like the way your tax dollars are being spent, or not spent, on autism research, this is your chance to speak up and take action. The strategic plan (SP) for autism research will guide federal spending on autism research for the next five years, subject to annual updates.”

Everyone who is even the slightest bit concerned about autism, the hosts of virtually extinct diseases that could return if enough people stop vaccinating, and the idea of medical science being directed by scientifically illiterate quacks should find this proposal absolutely frightening.


The healthy human body is exactly 98.6 degrees F – This medical myth is FALSE


Crackergate launches a revolution on TouTube – Once again Catholic outrage over something has drawn far more attention to it than existed prior to their outrage. Now YouTubers are making their own videos “desecrating” the Eucharist. Good job. Way to fail, Catholics:

“His videos began two months ago with the user saying into a webcam that he denied the Holy Spirit, then splitting a host in half and eating it with disrespect.”

Please somebody tell me how one eats a cracker with disrespect, because I’ve got a Nabisco cracker that has pissed me off the last time. Then I got to get me a communion wafer of my own to defile. If anyone can get me a communion wafer, please let me know. I will defile it worse than any god made of crackers has ever been defiled before. Here is one YouTuber cited in the article who’s really going to town on these wafers. I particularly like this one where the body of Christ gets nailed:


Solar Cell Sets World Efficiency Record – “Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have set a world record in solar cell efficiency with a photovoltaic device that converts 40.8 percent of the light that hits it into electricity. This is the highest confirmed efficiency of any photovoltaic device to date.”

Brain Disorder Leaves Patient Always ‘Lost’ -“Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute recently documented the first case of a patient who, without apparent brain damage or cognitive impairment, is unable to orient within any environment. Researchers also believe that there are many others in the general population who may be affected by this developmental topographical disorder.”

Dark Energy: Is It Merely An Illusion? – “Dark energy is at the heart of one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics, but it may be nothing more than an illusion, according physicists at Oxford University.”

NASA’s Dirty Secret: Moon Dust – “The Apollo Moon missions of 1969-1972 all share a dirty secret. “The major issue the Apollo astronauts pointed out was dust, dust, dust,” says Professor Larry Taylor, Director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee. Fine as flour and rough as sandpaper, Moon dust caused ‘lunar hay fever,’ problems with space suits, and dust storms in the crew cabin upon returning to space.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.21.08

September 22, 2008

Happy Autumnal Equinox everybody! – (It’s actually on Sept. 22th this year) You know what that means? Time to once again debunk that whole egg standing on end myth:

Salon Magazine article reviews Paul Offit’s new book and takes a baseball bat to the anti-vaccinationists – A rare case of the popular news media doing their job on this issue. Also I highly recommend listening to this week’s episode of The Skeptics Guide To The Universe podcast (40 minutes in) where the Guardian’s Ben Goldacre (whose legal victory against the evil quack Matthias Rath I’ve recently blogged about) talks more about the sordid history of the anti-vaccine movement.


Yemeni girl who was married off at 8 is now divorced at 10 – Congratulations Nujood, and I hope you enjoy your return to the second grade!

Thixotropy – My favorite new word of the day:

“Thousands of Neapolitans crowded into the city’s cathedral on Friday to witness the miracle of Saint Gennaro — whose dried blood is said to liquefy twice a year, 17 centuries after his death.”

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried . . . okay, maybe I could.

Why do we believe impossible things? -

“Wolpert argues that our wide range of beliefs, some of which are clearly false, grew out of a uniquely human trait. Alone in the animal world, humans understand cause and effect, and that, he says, led ultimately to the invention of tools, the rapid rise of sophisticated technology, and of course, beliefs. Even the earliest humans understood that many events that shaped their lives resulted from specific causes. Therefore, there must be a cause behind every event.”

Jesus is magic – A look inside the Fellowship of Christian Magicians. No, I’m serious. That’s what they actually call themselves.

How to make Fred Phelps & The Westboro Baptist Church go away – Don’t worry. It involves dressing up like a pirate:

“Yep, the cuckoo Phelps hate group walked the plank this morning after a happy bunch dressed like pirates and holding signs saying “God hates shrimp — Leviticus” and “God hates cotton-polyester blends” stood opposite them at the corner of Markham and Scott streets. The group, made up of Central Arkansas Pastafarians, waved swords and growled “Arrghh!” in a manner that would have made Abbie Hoffman proud.

With cars honking and waving at the pirates and a TV crew giving them all the attention, the Phelps group — with a child in tow, sadly — picked up their “fag” epithets and went away. Pitiful.”

What’s Jesus doing on the ceiling? – Hey Jesus, get down from there!

Roger Ebert gives creationism the thumbs up? – This smells of a hoax.

Is the banana man leaving the blogosphere for good? – I doubt it but it’d be a shame to lose him since he’s got to be an embarrassment even to other creationists. Ray Comfort preaches to the already converted and isn’t likely to convince anyone with his poor debating skills & his arrogant, distasteful schtick that involves bullying random people on the street by trying to humiliate them before a crowd to make himself look good:


Advice on how to avoid being a lonely skeptic

And an appropriate companion piece to this:

Are skeptics too combative?


How are atheists like smokers?Rev. Keith Crosby from Green Bay, Wisconsin provides the answer to that question with the worst comparison you’ll hear all day:

“Atheists are like smokers. Smokers know that smoking is harmful and yet they smoke while consciously suppressing the fact that harm will come to them if they persist. Atheists act as if their feigned unbelief somehow grants them immunity from responsibility vis-à-vis what politicians in the Watergate era once called “plausible denial.” Plausible denial won’t work with God.

As the passage above indicates, they will concoct theories and create their own little gods and myths including things like earth worship or UFOs … anything to suppress the truth from which they run. They are not fooling God. That’s why atheists get so angry about “religion” and pursue dead ends like “freedom from religion.” They don’t like to be reminded of what is true and the consequences of their self-delusion.

If you are reading this and you are a professing atheist — stop suppressing the truth. Embrace the forgiveness and restoration God in Christ offers.”


Pinning Down The Milky Way’s Rotation – “New, very precise measurements have shown that the rotation of the Milky Way is simpler than previously thought. A remarkable result from the most successful ESO instrument HARPS, shows that a much debated, apparent ‘fall’ of neighbourhood Cepheid stars towards our Sun stems from an intrinsic property of the Cepheids themselves.”

Naphthalene Found In Interstellar Space – “A team of scientists led by researchers from the Instituto Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has succeeded in identifying naphthalene, one of the most complex molecules yet discovered in the interstellar medium. The detection of this molecule suggests that a large number of the key components in prebiotic terrestrial chemistry could have been present in the interstellar matter from which the Solar System was formed.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.10.08

September 11, 2008

The World Hasn’t Ended! - Actually the world was about to end but I saved it with my divine powers from God. And for just $19.95, I can heal what ails ya with the power of faith. Seriously though, the Large Hadron Collider aka The Big Bang Machine aka the most powerful particle accelerator on Earth was a success. The world’s most powerful physics experiment ever is happening now. So far the particles are just whizzing by in circles at near the speed of light but the particle-smashing will happen eventually, I think.


And not surprisingly, Ray “The Banana Guy” Comfort thinks the money spent on the LHC would have been better spent on feeding the poor because he doesn’t understand the importance of the LHC and doesn’t want to understand. Of course he’s not exactly feeding the poor either. He’d sooner give them a bible tract than food. The refutations of his argument in the comments section of the blog are worth checking out.

Creationist Dinesh D’Souza pissed at PZ Myers over Crackergate – Enough already! It’s was frackin’ cracker!

The Spore Report – New evolution-based computer game ‘Spore’ has displeased creationists. Oh my science! This guy actually has a whole blog devoted to trashing this game. The game’s gotta be good! I was rather amused by this entry where he thinks of contacting Jack Thompson until learning Thompson’s a terrible lawyer. One of these days I got to do a whole blog on Jack Thompson. If you really want to laugh, look him up on YouTube.

And are video games secretly teaching kids the scientific method?

Is Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) any more popular today than 10 or 20 years ago?


Anti-vaxxers do the only thing they can do when faced with even more evidence that’s devastating to their case: deny, deny, deny, cover their ears and hum real loud, and of make up conspiracy claims. Of course, one of the lead authors of the recent MMR study was an anti-vaxxer until this study convinced her otherwise. And since Barack Obama said he’s against “selective vaccination” they’ve dubbed him a Big Pharma shill too.

Just because they’re not out to get you doesn’t mean “Big Pharma” WON’T screw you – Finally, people who actually know what they’re talking about are attacking many of the corrupt tactics the pharmaceutical companies have been using like allegedly manipulating studies and publications,

“swaying doctors and medical students to their brands with gifts, funding research at top teaching hospitals but keeping control of the studies and results, failing to disclose study authors’ conflicts of interest, even taking over the continuing medical education system for doctors by running courses on new treatments. Critics say such courses are taught by company-paid speakers who often promote expensive new drugs over older, cheaper ones.”

Wow! Of course the unfortunate and unintended side effect of doctors speaking out about these abuses is that it reinforces the paranoid great conspiracy theories of the delusional, who will from now on point to this as “smoking gun proof” that Big Pharma is in the pocket of George Bush, the evil bankers of the New World Order, and the shape-shifting reptiles from outer space in order to blow up the Twin Towers, free Xenu, and rule us all for no good reason other than for an abstract, impractical, and cartoonish idea of absolute power. But of course I’m just saying that because I’m one of THEM! HAIL XENU! (Thanks Brian)

Speaking of Xenu, On September 13, 2008, join Anonymous for “SCHOOL’S CLOSED,” a global free speech event in cities worldwide:

And biologists on the verge of creating life:

“And lab led by Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School, is building simple cell models that can almost be called life. Szostak’s protocells are built from fatty molecules that can trap bits of nucleic acids that contain the source code for replication. Combined with a process that harnesses external energy from the sun or chemical reactions, they could form a self-replicating, evolving system that satisfies the conditions of life, but isn’t anything like life on earth now, but might represent life as it began or could exist elsewhere in the universe . . . The replication isn’t wholly autonomous, so it’s not quite artificial life yet, but it is as close as anyone has ever come to turning chemicals into biological organisms.”

Post-Modern assault on evidence-based medicine – They actually coined the term “microfascism” to describe basing ones beliefs on evidence. That makes my head hurt. If evidence-based beliefs are just another narrative, I wonder if these guys wouldn’t mind leaping out of a 30-story window. Who knows what will happen? Don’t be fooled by the narrative of the authoritative scientists. It’s just as valid that jumping from a 30-story window will give you immortality. It’s just a narrative!

How to be an atheist activist

Religion and Social Problems:


PalMD has a great piece on 9/11.

And here’s a very strange piece I wrote about the tragedy 2 years ago.


World’s First Synthetic Tree Developed – “Stroock and graduate student Tobias Wheeler have created a “tree” that simulates the process of transpiration, the cohesive capillary action that allows trees to wick moisture upward to their highest branches . . . Of course, the synthetic tree doesn’t look much like a tree at all. It consists of two circles side by side in the gel, patterned with evenly spaced microfluidic channels to mimic a tree’s vascular system.”

New Approach To Explain Religious Behavior – “Without a way to measure religious beliefs, anthropologists have had difficulty studying religion. Now, two anthropologists from the University of Missouri and Arizona State University have developed a new approach to study religion by focusing on verbal communication, an identifiable behavior, instead of speculating about alleged beliefs in the supernatural that cannot actually be identified.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 8.28.08

August 29, 2008

The broadcast of Stephen Colbert’s “Better Know A Lobbyist” segment featuring Lori Lipman Brown of the Secular Coalition for America was unfortunately postponed until tomorrow in a first-ever Friday broadcast.

The Stroop Effect – New website where you can take the color test. From a skeptical point of view, I find this test interesting because it’s an effective way of illustrating how easily the brain can be deceived. I’m reminded of the cheap trick creationist Ray Comfort frequently takes advantage of this basic psychological effect when facing a scientifically educated opponent when out “witnessing” or preaching on the street. Comfort will ask you to spell the word, “Shop.” Then after you do it, he’ll ask you what you do when you come to a green light.” After being primed with the word, “Shop” a moment earlier, most people automatically say “stop.” Comfort then uses this to knock down his straw man that you claimed some sort of infallibility. It usually impresses a crowd and makes Comfort seem as though he’s beaten you in a battle of wits even though he’s just as susceptible to the phenomenon and it has nothing to do with the debate. So if ever you want to look intellectually superior to someone before a crowd, here’s how. And here’s Ray Comfort’s Book of Tricks for your enjoyment.

Where’s Jesus Now! – If you guessed on a moth, YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!

My favorite Christian, Fred Phelps of The Westboro Baptist Church, on the DNC:

This guy makes my job SOOO much easier.

List of the most influential science blogs – Of those that made the list that I check on a daily basis: Pharyngula (#3), Respectful Insolence (#7), and denialism blog (#15). Congrats guys!


This is why we don’t take pope Ratzinger seriously – These are his white whales::

Galileo gets a statue at Vatican – I guess this is a just a small token to show there are no hard feelings over that whole having kept him under house arrest for the remaining years of his life under false pretenses. One conservative Catholic writer, Atila Sinke Guimarães dismisses the church’s mistreatment of Galileo as a “black legend” and says the scientist got what he deserved for having the audacity of being right, adding:

“The Inquisition was very moderate with him. He wasn’t tortured.”















Lesbian rights pioneer Del Martin dies at 87


Lesbians – A threat to national security? – Oops. Correction, only lesbian t-shirts are a threat to national security. Oooohhh! That makes MUCH MORE SENSE! Wow. They didn’t even wait until the body was cold, did they?

Anti-vaxxers dirty tactic – Orac discusses their habit of “outing” the identities of their anonymous blogger critics presumably to shut them up through intimidation.









Attitudes and Public Health


Largest “randomized” acupuncture study ever done: why do they even bother?

And here’s another skeptic’s take on the study.








Subliminal Learning Demonstrated In Human Brain – “Although the idea that instrumental learning can occur subconsciously has been around for nearly a century, it had not been unequivocally demonstrated. Now, a new study published by Cell Press in the August 28 issue of the journal Neuron used sophisticated perceptual masking, computational modeling, and neuroimaging to show that instrumental learning can occur in the human brain without conscious processing of contextual cues.”

Jamaican Lizard Does Push-Ups To Stay Strong – “What does Jack LaLanne have in common with a Jamaican lizard? Like the ageless fitness guru, the lizards greet each new day with vigorous push-ups. That’s according to a new study showing that male Anolis lizards engage in impressive displays of reptilian strength — push-ups, head bobs, and threatening extension of a colorful neck flap called a dewlap — to defend their territory at dawn and dusk.”

One Form Of Adult Cell Transformed Into Another – “In a feat of biological prestidigitation likely to turn the field of regenerative medicine on its head, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) co-director Doug Melton and post doctoral fellow Qiao “Joe” Zhou report having achieved what has long been a dream and ultimate goal of developmental biologists – directly turning one type of fully formed adult cell into another type of adult cell.”


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