Wyoming school district against tolerance posters

January 31, 2010

A Wyoming school district pulled down a bunch of posters promoting tolerance, which is a concept they don’t tolerate in Wheatland – It seems that because one of the sponsors listed on the poster is the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, that’s just unacceptable:

“The board thought it was inappropriate to have that sponsorship hanging up in the school,” said Stuart Nelson, the district’s superintendent.

The banners, which had been allowed by district administrators, were removed after complaints. Some students asked to have them put back up, but the board refused.

Apparently, offensiveness only goes one way, the fascist way.

Joe Fabian, another board member, said he believes the Anti-Defamation League is pushing an “agenda that is pro-gay marriage” and that the community of Wheatland is not supportive of that.

“No Place For Hate” –Of course! How could I have missed all that evil gay propaganda? Tolerance is the gateway drug to destroying the other 50% of marriages that wouldn’t otherwise end in divorce. It all makes sense now! MORON!!!

Baptists kidnap 33 Haitian children for Jesus

January 31, 2010

Some of these are the actual would-be kidnappers

A group of Baptists were arrested for trying to kidnap 33 Haitian children for Jesus

Ten U.S. Baptists detained trying to take 33 children out of earthquake-shattered Haiti without government permission say they were just trying to do the right thing, applying Christian principles to save Haitian children.

Prime Minister Max Bellerive on Sunday told The Associated Press that the group was arrested and is under judicial investigation “because it is illegal trafficking of children and we won’t accept that.”

Well, the Bible does demand the selling of daughters into slavery (Exodus 21:7-8:

21:7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. 21:8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.

Both Sides!

January 31, 2010

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.30.10

January 31, 2010

1. Dinosaur Find Helps Solve Evolutionary Puzzle

A George Washington University expedition to the Gobi Desert of China has enabled researchers to solve the puzzle of how one group of dinosaurs came to look like birds independent of birds. The discovery extends the fossil record of the family Alvarezsauridae — a bizarre group of bird-like dinosaurs with a large claw on the hand and very short, powerful arms — back 63 million years, further distancing the group from birds on the evolutionary tree.

Until now, there was no direct evidence that dinosaurs of this type lived during the Late Jurassic, approximately 160 million years ago. George Washington University doctoral candidate Jonah Choiniere named the newly discovered species of dinosaur, Haplocheirus sollers (meaning simple, skillful hand).

Again, that’s 63 million years ago, which for those keeping count is 62,994,000 years before the existence of the whole universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

2. Elmhurst, Illinois Mayor Pete DiCianni calls to waste tax dollars on prayer – DiCianni is calling from each City Council meeting to over with a prayer. Now besides the fact that this obviously tramples on the wall separating church and state, even rational Christians should be able to admit that we’re not paying these people to sit around and pray, but rather to run the local government. If these people wish to pray, let them do so on their own time and not on the taxpayers’ time.

3. Christian police force in UK who believe in power of prayer  receives £10,000 grant – If all it takes to catch criminals is prayer, why do they need any money? And for that matter, why do they need a police force?

4. Mennonites kidnap 14-year-old girl – The daughter of Doug Ramsey may have been brainwashed. Three church members were arrested for allegedly concealing the girl from her parents and police after she ran away from home. They intended to take her out of the state to Kentucky. Church members encouraged her to disconnect from her parents and helped facilitate her departure.

5. Midlife crises are a myth – Here’s a great article debunking the myths surrounding the so-called midlife crisis.

6. Virginia School district bans Diary of Anne Frank – That’s right. I’ll repeat that. They banned Anne Frank’s book. Why you might ask? Because of a passage about her adolescent curiosity concerning sexuality. The offending passage reads:

There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!

The horror! The horror!

But that’s not even the worst part, according to the article linked to above:

Amazon.com lists Anne Frank’s diary as one of the most banned children’s books, “for being too depressing for students.”

Anne Frank’s diary is among the most banned children’s books? Anne Frank? Are we talking about the same Anne Frank? The young girl in hiding from the Nazis? Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most banned children’s books? WTF!!!!!!!

7. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $10 billion to vaccines – Suck it, Jenny McCarthy!

8. Do children need both a mother and a father? – Yup, once again science proves the bigots wrong:

The presumption that children need both a mother and a father is widespread. It has been used by proponents of Proposition 8 to argue against same-sex marriage and to uphold a ban on same-sex adoption.

. . .

The lead article in the February issue of Journal of Marriage and Family challenges the idea that “fatherless” children are necessarily at a disadvantage or that men provide a different, indispensable set of parenting skills than women.

. . .

In their analysis, the researchers found no evidence of gender-based parenting abilities, with the “partial exception of lactation,” noting that very little about the gender of the parent has significance for children’s psychological adjustment and social success.

9. Pope calls for crackdowns on marriage annulments “at all costs” – But still nothing about cracking down on the thousands of child rapists whose salaries he pays. That’s fine.

Skeptics fail in homeopathy-based mass suicide attempt

January 30, 2010

Today many skeptical protesters gathered outside of Boots Pharmacies in the UK and Australia to take part in public mass overdoses of homeopathic remedies. This protest was organized by the 10:23 campaign, devoted to proving that there are no active ingredients in homeopathic products.

But unfortunately for homeopaths, not a single protester died or was in any way harmed by these actions, as they should have been if there were active ingredients in them:

The media response to this statement was scathing. Boots: We sell homeopathic remedies because they sell, not because they work was one headline. However they sugar it, you’re swallowing a delusion was another. An open letter to Boots from the Merseyside Skeptics followed…

Waiting for Armageddon

January 30, 2010

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Waiting for Armageddon“, posted with vodpod

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.28.10

January 29, 2010

1. Scientists determine color of dinosaur’s tail feathers – because of course dinosaurs weren’t in any way related to birds. Right creationists? It’s orange.

2. Russian rabbis hospitalized from holy water – Silly rabbis. Trix are for kids. (Thanks to my friend Michelle for that joke!)

3. Doctors Without Borders vaccinates 2,100 kids against Measles in Pakistan – This is great news but I fear that the first Pakistani kid who gets sick from anything at all will become a target for anti-vaccinationists to point to, insisting that it was the vaccine. . .even if that particular kid wasn’t vaccinated. Or maybe they’re just emphasize that these kids only got vaccinated against measles instead of getting MMR vaccines, and insist that that’s how we should all get them. Either way, I doubt this news story will escape their rationalizations.

4. Atheist billboard goes up in Tampa Bay

5. The Pope’s a masochist – Remember when the Pope condemned “The Da Vinci Code” for its inaccuracy? Well it wasn’t all inaccurate. The self-flagellation part was true:

Star of Scientology’s Orientation film gives a farewell performance

January 29, 2010

Larry Anderson, an actor and long-time member of the Cult of $cientology who starred in their orientation film has split. In the orientation film he said:

“If you leave this room after seeing this film and walk out and never mention Scientology again, you are perfectly free to do so.  It would be stupid, but you can do it.  You can also dive off a bridge or blow your brains out.  That is your choice.

“But, if you don’t walk out that way, if you continue with Scientology, we will be very happy with you, and you will be very happy with you.”

When the guy who welcomed you in and told you that leaving “would be stupid” leaves, that should tell you something. He spent an estimated $150,000 on $cientology but had additionally spent $119,711 for future services that he never collected on and which Tommy Davis promised to return to him. Eleven months later, Anderson is out and he still hasn’t gotten his money back. That should tell you where $cientology’s interests really lie.

You can hear excerpts from Larry’s conversation with Davis here.

Anti-vaxxers unite to defend their infallible prophet

January 28, 2010

Dr. Andrew Wakefield

UK’s General Medical Council (the main independent body of medical regulators in the UK) has finally reached a decision about Andrew Wakefield, the long-discredited doctor whose 1998 study seeking to link MMR vaccines to autism no only endangered children but its results were deliberately faked by Wakefield himself and his PR campaign afterward potentially endangered all human life on Earth. Most of the study’s co-authors have themselves rejected that study.

So what was the General Medical Council’s decision? Focusing only on Wakefield’s ethics and not on his actual claims, they concluded that Wakefield acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly.”

What they found is that his research (involving spinal taps of children) was against the children’s clinical interest, that Wakefield was unqualified to perform the test, and that he had no ethical approval to do them.

And in response to his complete and utter disgrace, the anti-vaccination movement, who view Wakefield as an infallible god, have dropped everything to come to his defense. In fact, at this moment, the last ten blog entries on Age of Autism are all about defending Wakefield’s, [snicker] “honor.” Of course, that mostly just means flinging feces at the General Medical Council. And although I haven’t wasted my time reading all their nonsense, knowing Age of Autism, there’s got to be plenty of accusations of conflicts of interest, which is of course inconsistent with their refusal to acknowledge Wakefield’s undeniable conflict of interest where he published his “study” vilifying MMR vaccines while simultaneously developing an alternative to vaccinations, establishing a very large monetary incentive to make the public distrust vaccines.

Of course I don’t think this is enough. Wakefield should be in jail for life for his crimes. Not only did he directly and irresponsibly endanger the lives of twelve children but he distorted his data in order to discourage people from getting important medicine and built a campaign and cult (there’s even a website of blind devotees) designed to create fear, confusion, and distrust of modern medicine. This has indirectly led to many deaths. And to get a hint of just how many deaths we’re talking about, check out the website Jenny McCarthy Body Count. As far as I’m concerned, the man may be responsible for more deaths than Genghis Khan and belongs in prison.

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.26.10

January 27, 2010

1. Studying the attention spans of flies may lead to insights in ADHD and autism – Remember two years ago when Sarah Palin laughed at fruit fly research. . .and everyone who knew anything at all about science proceeded to laugh at her. Well here’s another reason why.

An Australian-German team of scientists at Freie Universität and the Queensland Brain Institute in Brisbane, Australia, has found a way to measure the attention span of a fly. The findings could lead to further advances in the understanding of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism in humans.

And that laughter extends to J.B. Handley, who I reported yesterday has called legitimate scientific research into autism a waste of money, insisting instead that research dollars should go towards trying to prove his already debunked hypothesis that vaccines cause autism.

2. Rationally Speaking podcast is now available to download – The New York City Skeptics now have an official podcast, Rationally Speaking, which is hosted by Biologist/Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci and a friend of mine, Journalist Julia Galef, Check it out.

3. Vote RachieDr. Rachael Dunlop, who once interviewed me for The Skeptics Zone podcast (ep. 51), is now in a head-to-head competition with the certifiably insane Joseph Mercola for the number one spot in the Health category of the ShortyAwards, voted by Twitter users. You can vote for her here. Mercola has even gone so far as to childish call Dunlop “fat” and “Big Pharma’s wet dream.” Classy guy.

4. New study further suggests flattery works. . .but I’m sure not on people as smart and clever as you

What this research suggests, however, is that the implicit positivity we experience as a result of viewing these images could play an important role in what we reach for when standing in the liquor store staring at a freezer full of cheap beer. You may not know why, but you’d feel pretty good about a Bud right now. And while you feel certain to you that your preference is not due to those silly ads (just like it might seem obvious to a manager that they didn’t promote a candidate because he brings her donuts every morning), perhaps it is the certainty with which we dismiss these kinds of manipulative and deceptive appeals that allows them to hold such sway.