New From Around The Blogosphere 8.31.09

August 31, 2009

Jesus has returned, and he’s in Siberia – Sergei Torop, a former traffic policeman, claims to be Jesus Christ. So maybe he can finally show up to court.

Robots getting closer to mimicking humans

The Eccerobot is a project created by five European institutions to build a robot modeled after the human anatomy.

. . .

This has led to a robot that looks and moves very much like a human, if you can imagine some skin wrapped over all those wires, strings, and pulleys.

Foundation Beyond Belief – This is a charity for atheists that promotes humanistic generosity and a nationwide nonreligious parent education program.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm -This seems to be the UK’s version of the Creation “Museum.” There’s so much I could say about it but pictures are worth a thousand words:

George Clooney stares at goats

August 30, 2009

Jon Ronson is the skeptical author who brought us THEM, a book that’s been on my MUST READ list for some time now. He’s also responsible for a book I hadn’t heard of until now called The Men Who Stare At Goats.

he Men Who Stare at Goats is his bizarre quest into “the most whacked-out corners of George W. Bush’s War on Terror,” as he puts it. Ronson is inspired when a man who claims to be a former U.S. military psychic spy tells the journalist he has been reactivated following the 9-11 attack. Ronson decides to investigate. His research leads him to the U.S. Army’s strange forays into extra-sensory perception and telepathy, which apparently included efforts to kill barnyard animals with nothing more than thought. Ronson meets one ex-Army employee who claims to have killed a goat and his pet hamster by staring at them for prolonged periods of time.

Well, now it’s being made into a major motion picture starring George Clooney. And it looks AWESOME!

Very Coen Brothers-esque. I can’t wait.

Pope blames atheists Earth’s ecological problems

August 30, 2009

Yay! Joey Ratz has more great scientific wisdom to impart! That means it’s time to send out another douchebag card:

douche cardsAccording to his Captain Pointy Hat, atheists are responsible for the world’s ecological problems:

Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied? If the human creature’s relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the ‘final authority,’ and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.

It’s getting harder and harder to keep straight all the things about me that I didn’t know until the Pope told me. Let’s see. I’m apparently a communist, responsible for global climate change, and promoter of the thing the Pope says causes AIDS. . .condoms.

I don’t really have anything more to say about this story, so I’ll just quote the response from Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society:

This is rich coming from the leader of an organisation that has plundered the world to enrich itself. As he sits in his golden palaces, surrounded by unimaginable luxury and material wealth, he lectures the rest of us about restraint and greed. We have nothing to learn about environmentalism from this hypocrite.

High school marching band shirts spark unlikely controversy

August 30, 2009

The high school marching band in Sedalia, Missouri has become the center of controversy because of their band t-shirts. Why are the t-shirts pissing people off? They reference evolution. Ugh!

The band explained their intended meaning of the shirts:

Assistant Band Director Brian Kloppenburg said the shirts were designed by him, Band Director Jordan Summers and Main Street Logo. Kloppenburg said the shirts were intended to portray how brass instruments have evolved in music from the 1960s to modern day. Summers said they chose the evolution of man because it was “recognizable.” The playlist of songs the band is slated to perform revolve around the theme “Brass Evolutions.”

But the best part comes from one of the band mom’s, who shockingly is a teacher in the district herself (though you wouldn’t know it from this little gem):

Band parent Sherry Melby, who is a teacher in the district, stands behind Pollitt’s decision. Melby said she associated the image on the T-shirt with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

Yeah, we don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea that the kids are doing any learning in our schools. What would my husband/brother think? That’s why we burned all the books that didn’t have the words “Holy” and “Bible” on the covers.

It might seem like the previous paragraph was an unfair characterization of this group, but it’s worth mentioning that the assistant superintendent did indeed sell out his students’ future to appease an angry mob by bowing to their abscene demands and recalled the shirts. His reason?

Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned.

“If the shirts had said ‘Brass Resurrections’ and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing,” he said.

Seriously? That’s your reason? This is stupid on numerous levels but I’ll just point out two:

A. Evolution is not a religion; it’s scientific fact. This is like pulling a shirt that says “Brass Abraham Lincoln” because it might offend those who don’t believe Lincoln was a real person.

B. Religion doesn’t have the monopoly on the word “resurrection,” so why would the phrase “Brass Resurrections” be considered religiously insensitive?

So what’s the harm of having such uneducated buffoons running your education system? See for yourself:

Senior Drum Major Mike Howard said he was disappointed when he had to return the shirt.

“I liked the shirt because it was unique,” Howard said. “The theory of evolution never even crossed my mind.”

Really Mike? Evolution didn’t cross your mind when seeing the “ascent of man” image? Wow!

Penn & Teller: Vatican is BULLSHIT!

August 30, 2009

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Penn & Teller: Vatican is BULLSHIT! “, posted with vodpod

Age of Autism seeking more attention by criticizing Chris Mooney

August 29, 2009

The other day, I blogged about Age of Autism anti-vaccinationist Ginger Taylor’s pathetic attack on Chris Mooney for his brief mention of the unscientific nature of the anti-vaccinationist movement in an article he wrote for the LA Times. Well Mooney & Kirshenbaum’s only response to this, as far as I know, was to link to Orac’s excellent response to them here.

Well now Age of Autism’s J. Bradley Borden is trying to get some attention by attacking Mooney too. It’s really kind of sad too because Borden doesn’t seem to say anything about the science at all. Instead, because presumably he doesn’t understand the science, he harps on a cherry-picked and probably quote-mined few words that Mooney allegedly said (though Borden doesn’t provide the source of the quote and I couldn’t find it in the original LA Times article). The line that Borden devotes his criticism is Mooney’s alleged quote, “Scientists are super smart.” To be fair (though Borden isn’t), here’s the entire alleged quote by Mooney, which Borden doesn’t source:

“Scientists are super smart. And they end up in communities of people like them. Their education level is extremely high and that’s what lets them do the great stuff that they do. Over a lifetime, they can sort of forget where everyone else is starting from”.

Now Borden calls this “The gist of his argument,” which is a flat-out lie. Even if I accept that this statement did indeed come from Mooney, it most definitely is not the gist of his argument. Not even close. I’ve heard Mooney argue his position (as well as the position of the entire medical community) and that isn’t it. Mooney is not making an argument from authority, as Borden would have people believe. This is just a platform for him to delve into one of the favorite tactics of all cranks, the “science has been wrong before” gambit, which has been discussed many, many times such as here and here.

And that’s Borden’s ENTIRE ARGUMENT! That’s the whole dog and pony show. And he illustrates his ignorance even further with this little gem:

Ginger wrote one of the most thoughtful, to the point and on target rebuttals that this non-scientist has ever read.

Ginger’s little blog was anything but thoughtful, and while Borden proclaims Ginger the winner (Big Surprise!), she’s such an intellectual amoeba that Mooney didn’t even bother to write his own response to her. And yet, despite the fact that Mooney didn’t personally bother with her, Borden titled his own blog, “Autism Wars: Chris Mooney vs. Ginger Taylor.” Won the battle? Borden, Borden, Borden. Mooney hardly even noticed she exists. Get real.

But at least Borden did finally manage to work in one whole true statement in his blog:  he’s not a scientist. That we can agree on.

The following is an accurate portrayal of the battle between Chris Mooney and Ginger Taylor, with Wallace Shawn playing the part of Taylor:

Magic broom in Alabama?

August 28, 2009

In a yet-to-open consignment shop in Montgomery, Alabama, there stands a broom that seems to defy the laws of gravity.

No, there isn’t any glue, and there are no magnets in the floor. As to something otherworldly going on, people will have to use their own judgment.

A local paranormal investigation group devoted hours looking into it:

Southern Paranormal Researchers spent several hours at the store Friday night and Saturday morning, leaving about 2 a.m., she said. The crew put teams in the store, its basement and the building next door, which houses Lucky Photography.”They told us they felt the presence of several spirits,” Christy Burdett said. “The lights flickered next door.”

She said one member of the group came out of the bathroom and wanted to know who had turned the lights off. “When she found out nobody did, she got a little upset,” Burdett said.

. . .

“The basement team thought they had some shadow movement,” he said. “Other members of the team just had the feeling of a creepy presence.”

But finally after hours of investigation, the head of the Southern Paranormal Researchers, Jake Bell, thinks he’s figured out the mystery:

“I just think it balances that way,” he said.



YouTube atheists unite against breast cancer

August 28, 2009

This Week In God 8.28.09

August 28, 2009

1. Phillip Garrido: kidnapper, child rapist, Heaven-bound-Jesus-lover – So Garrido and his wife kidnapped this 11-year-old girl in 1991, they imprisoned her in the backyard, he raped her repeatedly, he had 2 children with her (now 11 and 15 years old) who were also imprisoned for their whole lives, and of course he loves Jesus. In fact, some thought he was even going to start a church. Lovely. Oh, and he has–err, had a blog where he discussed Jesus.

2. 64% of people won’t be swayed by scientific evidence if it conflicts with their religious beliefs – That is frightening, though not entirely surprising. It’s like trying to convince an anti-vaccinationist that maybe their gut isn’t a better expert than the doctors.

faith healing3. Washington state law considers Christian Science faith healing to be acceptable medical treatment

Washington’s law specifies that a person treated through faith healing “by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner in lieu of medical care is not considered deprived of medically necessary health care or abandoned.” Other religions are not mentioned.

prayerhardwork4. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s solution to healthcare – I’ve talked about this fucktard before. Just about every word out of her mouth seems to make Sarah Palin look smarter by comparison. Case in point, her solution to the healthcare crisis:

“That’s really where this battle will be won — on our knees in prayer and fasting,” she told the listeners. “Remember: faith without works is dead. So we’re asking you to do all of it: pray, fast, believe, trust the Lord, but also act.”

Seriously, can’t we throw her out of office at this point?

Anti-vaccinationists show their cowardice

August 28, 2009

vaccine3The anti-vaccinationists over at SafeMinds were invited to participate in a panel discussion about vaccines and autism by MSNBC. The producer of the program informed them that the other panelists would be Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIH’s Director of the National institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and an unnamed vaccine manufacturer were also invited.

But when they heard that Dr. Nancy Snyderman, a strong critic of the anti-vaccination movement, was going to be the moderator, they backed out:

After much deliberation, SafeMinds declined the interview due to concerns with regard to Dr. Snyderman’s ability to objectively “moderate” this panel discussion.

This is a rather lame cop-out. This is  a topic where everyone seems to have a strong opinion one way or the other. So presumably, no matter who was chosen to moderate the discussion, that person would have their opinion on the topic. When has a moderator having actually thoughts and opinions of their own ever invalidated their position as a moderator? It’s not a conflict of interest. SafeMinds just wants to use this as an excuse to call the media biased because that’s proven to be an effective tactic among the brainless, even though the media has sadly been more on the side of the anti-vaccination movement for some time.

And it’s worth pointing out that given that no one has yet provided evidence for an evil conspiracy or for a link between vaccines and autism, it’s not even accurate to call Snyderman biased since she’s taking the null hypothesis. The fact that SafeMinds was invited at all was giving them more than they deserve because there is no legitimate controversy in the scientific community.

Then they have the audacity to libel Snyderman by claiming that she has an ideological approach and is demonizing parents, neither is true. But when you view mere vocal disagreement with your own ideology as demonizing parents, it’s impossible not to offend you.

So I hope MSNBC still does the panel discussion without any anti-vaccinationists defending a position for which they have no rational basis for holding.