Why is Fox “News” so scared of “5%” of Americans

February 28, 2010

I do wish Newdow had corrected her false statistics as there 15% of Americans state that they are not affiliated with any organized religion, not “5%.” That means there are more Americans unaffiliated with any religion than there are Jews and blacks combined.

Fox’s other amusing swipe at Newdow and “the atheists” comes from Sean “I never met I fact I couldn’t deny” Hannity:

Of course it wasn’t “the atheists” who met with White House officials but those who promote secular government, some of whom are in fact religious. And I fail to see how agreeing to be “fair and balanced” makes the Obama Administration hostile to religion.

Also of course, it’s also a mystery why Newdow’s name even came up at all in this story as he was not in attendance at this meeting with the Secular Coalition.

But of course Hannity already knew that because as everyone knows, “the most trusted name in news” has the best fact checkers around.

And I’m sure they had good reason to not actually report the story at all but instead merely use it as just a launching pad to criticize the Obamas, who also did not attend the meeting.

Another stellar reporting job by “America’s most trusted name in news.”

Roland Emmerich’s latest crappy movie to promote Shakespeare denial

February 27, 2010

This has the distinguished honor of being my very first post about the moderately popular conspiracy theory invented by the certifiably insane that claims that William Shakespeare did not author his plays but rather they were penned by some dude named Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Of course the complete lack of evidence for these claims never stopped anyone from believing in them.

But now the filmmaker responsible for the slavery-denial film The Patriot (starring the Jew-hating Mel Gibson that also revised history to depict the British as pure evil), the scientifically impaired The Day After Tomorrow,  and the hysteria-promoting 2012 is responsible for a new project called Anonymous, that allegedly promotes this long-debunked myth that Shakespeare didn’t really write his plays.

But I guess Roland Emmerich has one thing going for him. He makes Michael Bay not look so bad and Oliver Stone slightly less crazy.

Does astrology disprove climate change?

February 27, 2010

Well South Dakota thinks so:

Secular Coalition meeting w/ White House goes well

February 27, 2010

Yesterday I blogged that today a meeting would take place between the Secular Coalition and officials in the Obama Administration. And it seems as though the Secular Coalition did a good job of presenting their case and that White House officials were receptive to their message.

But the clearest sign that we’re moving in the right direction is the completely hilarious, over-the-top, doom-saying rhetoric of Bill Donohue, who either doesn’t know anything about the people he’s criticizing or just doesn’t care:

People of faith, especially Christians, have good reason to wonder exactly where their interests lie with the Obama administration. Now we have the definitive answer. In an unprecedented move, leaders of a presidential administration are hosting some of the biggest anti-religious zealots in the nation.

If President Obama does not want to go to church, that is his business. But it is the business of the American people, most all of whom are believers, to know where the president and his administration stand with regards to their concerns. It is not likely that this outreach to anti-religious activists — many of whom would crush Christianity if they could — will do anything to calm the fears of people of faith. Indeed, it will only alienate them even further.

It is important that the public learn of the contents of this meeting. We will do what we can to find out what happened.

This was followed up by In God We Trust’s Chairman Bishop Council Nedd basically just repeating the same talking points about the Secular Coalition being a bigoted hate group.

Of course these accusations have no basis in fact, which should be obvious considering that some of the organizations associated with the Secular Coalition are religious. Funny how there’s a direct inverse correlation between godliness and honesty. But who needs honesty when you can get far more media attention from just saying a bunch of crazy lies? Plus Donohue is in love with his own outrage.

Stay classy, guys!

News From Around The Blogosphere 2.25.10

February 26, 2010

1. A new study suggests acupuncture is good for depression in pregnancy. . .or does it?

In other words, acupuncture specific for depression produced an effect that was not different from that of one of the controls. But by creating a group that combined non-specific acupuncture (ineffective) with massage (effective), they were able to create a composite that was ineffective, and then they compared the experimental group with the composite. But that doesn’t change the fact that acupuncture for depression was no better than massage.

Have the authors shown that acupuncture specific for depression is effective for treating depression in pregnant women? I don’t think so. If it offers no advantage over massage, we can forget about acupuncture and simply offer depressed pregnant women a day at the spa. It is no less effective and probably far more enjoyable.

2. Smile or Die:  How positive thinking fooled America and the world – In her new book, Barbara Ehrenreich presents the evidence of numerous studies demonstrating that positive thinking has no effect on survival rates. She also provides testimonies that suggest that possibly great harm comes from this false hope.

Pity, for example, the woman who wrote to the mind/body medical guru Deepak Chopra: “Even though I follow the treatments, have come a long way in unburdening myself of toxic feelings, have forgiven everyone, changed my lifestyle to include meditation, prayer, proper diet, exercise and supplements, the cancer keeps coming back. Am I missing a lesson here that it keeps re-occurring? I am positive I am going to beat it, yet it does get harder with each diagnosis to keep a positive attitude.”

New Age mysticism may sound harmless enough but here is a great example of how dangerous such irrational beliefs are.

3. A gene mutation is linked to autistic symptoms in mice – Once again, this is research that would not exist if J.B. Handley, Jenny McCarthy, and their anti-vaccine cohorts were making the decisions because they have zero interest in exploring the genetic basis for autism.

4. Stem Cells restore sight to blind mice – I feel like this news story is a rerun. Anyway though, once again this is research that might not have existed if George Bush was president.

An international research team led by Columbia University Medical Center successfully used mouse embryonic stem cells to replace diseased retinal cells and restore sight in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa. This strategy could potentially become a new treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, a leading cause of blindness that affects approximately one in 3,000 to 4,000 people, or 1.5 million people worldwide.

Secular Coalition to meet with Obama Administration

February 26, 2010

Can atheists ever get their concerns listened to by the federal government? The Obama Administration has now answered this question with a resounding, “Yes We Can!”

Tomorrow may mark a new chapter in American history, one where the White House officially takes an interest in atheists. Although they don’t just represent atheist organizations, the Secular Coalition for America is fighting to protect the wall separating church and state. And now the Secular Coalition is meeting with White House officials to discuss those issues of particular importance to the secular community. This has never happened before and hopefully it’ll set a precedent for all future presidents.

Particularly, they plan to discuss religious exemptions for parents who mistreat their children (i.e. kids with medical issues), military proselytization, and fixing Faith-Based Initiatives.

Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, said “We are delighted that we will get the chance to speak to and to hear from the Obama administration at the briefing with the Secular Coalition for America tomorrow. We will not be seeking support for Atheism from the federal administration, because we know they must be neutral and because we are confident that our conclusions can compete and win in the marketplace of ideas, unaided by government. We seek an end to special rights for religious ideas and beliefs–in all regulations, laws, procedures, and pronouncements. The privileging of religiosity violates the First Amendment and good sense.”

Here’s the official press release (PDF).

Symphony of Science – The Poetry of Reality

February 26, 2010

News From Around The Blogosphere 2.24.10

February 25, 2010

Janet Stemwedel

1. Animal Rights Terrorists endanger lives – PZ Myers, Orac, PalMD , and Orac again have all blogged about this story. After participating in a panel discussion on the ethics of animal research, Janet Stemwedel’s home address and phone number were leaked on an animal rights terrorist site, aptly named “Negotiation is over!” That should give you a hint of how rational these folks are, especially considering that her efforts were intended to reach out to those concerned about animal testing. And another participant, Dr. Ringach, had his children threatened by these cowards. You can find much more detail on this on Orac’s first post linked to above.

2. Atheist bus ad rejected in New Zealand – NZ Bus suddenly canceled plans to put up the ad because it they say it was too controversial. What did it say? “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life.” Wow, that’s real controversial.

3. Illinois Family Institute complaining again – They’re protesting The Day of Silence, a a student-run initiative where school students remain silence on behalf of the members of the GLBT community who have been forced to be silent about their sexual orientation. So what’s their brilliant response to this initiative?

Parents should call their middle and high school administrators and ask one question: Are students permitted to refuse to speak in class on the DOS? If the answer is yes, or if it is evasive or unclear, call your child or children out of school on April 16.

Yes, take the kids out of school so they won’t be heard in class. Good thinking! Down with tolerance!

4. Actor Mark Ruffalo tells how as a child he pretended to get “knocked out by the spirit of the Lord” just to appease his family:

5. Christian charity stealing money from the children? – There’s a civil war going on within the Christian charity, Feed the Children between Rev. Larry Jones, the charity’s founder and spokesman, and the Board of Directors, led by Jones’ daughter Larri Sue.

Jones claims Larri Sue used charity money to pay for her lavish Los Angeles home and tried to cover up her own tax evasion. The Board and Larri Sue claim Jones and his wife are the real thieving liars, skimming money off the top of donations for themselves and bugging executive offices. Jones fired his daughter from the charity and all Board members who opposed him. A court ruling reinstated all of them, then Larri Sue fired her father. Then the Board claimed to find incest porn in Jones’ office. Then Jones’ claimed Board members sent around racist and sexually charged emails! And while all this is going down, there are serious questions as to whether or not Feed the Children is doing any charity work at all in Haiti, which it has claimed to be doing since the recent earthquake.

6. Does this robot freak you out as much as it does me? – Engineers at UC San Diego’s Machine Perception Laboratory made a robot baby to simulate the motor skills and development of a human one-year-old. It can hold a bottle, stand up in a chair, and scare the shit out of you by just looking at it.

News From Around The Blogosphere 2.23.10

February 24, 2010

1. Protein study shows Evolutionary link between plants and animals

Inserting a human protein important in cancer development was able to revive dying plants, showing an evolutionary link between plants and humans and possibly making it easier to study the protein’s function in cancer development, a Purdue University study has shown.

And yet millions of creationists are still unimpressed. Go figure.

2. Mouse with human liver aids research –

How do you study-and try to cure in the laboratory-an infection that only humans can get? A team led by Salk Institute researchers does it by generating a mouse with an almost completely human liver. This “humanized” mouse is susceptible to human liver infections and responds to human drug treatments, providing a new way to test novel therapies for debilitating human liver diseases and other diseases with liver involvement such as malaria.

Just in case you needed another reason to want to punch anti-animal-testing extremists in the face.

3. Steve Novella gives the 411 on the Bloom Box – After it being featured on this week’s 60 Minutes, I too was interested in finding out more about this Bloom Box and whether it really was as impressive a solution for clean energy as it seemed on the show.

4. $cientology hires reporters to investigate the St. Petersburg Times – For those who don’t know the St. Petersburg Times has over the past several months become one of $cientology’s worst enemies, doing the kind of in depth investigative reporting on the evil cult that every other news outlet should have been doing decades ago. Now the $cientology is out for blood and has gotten three veteran journalists to try and investigate the paper’s conduct:

While the journalists have promised an independent review, the Times has refused to cooperate, saying their work will be used to fuel the church’s ongoing campaign against the Florida paper.

“I ultimately couldn’t take this request very seriously because it’s a study bought and paid for by the Church of Scientology,” says Executive Editor Neil Brown. “Candidly,” he adds, “I was surprised and disappointed that journalists who I understand to have an extensive background in investigative reporting would think it’s appropriate to ask me or our news organization to talk about that reporting while (a) it’s ongoing, and (b) while they’re being paid to ask these questions by the very subjects of our reporting.”

. . .

Church spokesman Tommy Davis says that he recently received the approximately 20-page study and that it will not necessarily be made public. It was commissioned, he says, because “we wanted to get an outside view” of the situation. Davis, who would not disclose how much the reporters were paid, calls the report highly critical of the Times stories on the church.


The names of those journalists who sold their souls to $cientology are: Russell Carollo, Christopher Szechenyi, and Steve Weinberg.

5. Judge Judy vs. creationism, anti-choicers, anti-stem cell researchers, and “fundie” politicians –

Non-bomb-detecting magic wands still all the rage

February 24, 2010

The Iraqi military are still planning to use magic wands to detect bombs. Apparently after these silly bomb-detecting dowsing rods have been utterly debunked and proven useless, as well as the man responsible for them, Jim McCormick, has been arrested for fraud, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki has ordered that they still be used. No wonder the fucking nation needs our military help. They’re still living in the fucking stone age!

And these assholes aren’t even the only ones!!!

It seems that the Thai military (yes, I laughed when I heard there was a Thai military too) is defending the use of the ADE651 magic wands. Of course, if anyone knows about bomb detection it’s the Thai military, right? Right?

Thai army chief General Anupong Paojinda is defending the use of what are essentially magic wands to detect bombs, even though the specific device they use has been tested repeatedly and failed to perform. This device is essentially the same as the ones used in Iraq and Afghanistan which have been proven worthless, and for which the head of the manufacturing company, Jim McCormick, has been arrested for suspicion of fraud.

Paojinda is convinced the dowsing rods work, even though it’s little more than an antenna glued to a plastic box.

Maybe we can boost Jim McCormick’s charge to murder and charge these military morons with criminal negligence for falling for one of the classic blunders. The most well known of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia. But only slightly less known is never go up against a cunning military opponent armed with magic wands.