News From Around The Blogosphere 9.22.08

September 23, 2008
Show me on the doll where Jesus touched you

Show me on the doll where Jesus touched you

6 children in custody after raid on a church – The FBI raided the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in Fouke, Arkansas as part of a child-porn investigation and says the children may have been sexually and physically abused.
Phil Plait reviews McCain’s Science Debate 2008 answers – And here, he discusses McCain’s odd unwillingness to reveal the names of his science advisors.

Alternative Medicine pracititioners – How they do the voodoo that they do so well – This is a MUST READ. Here is a comprehensive guide to how alt. med. practitioners operate. If you learn these steps you’ll probably never fall for another piece of quackery again. And another nice part about it is that the author chose as their particular example the anti-vaccine practitioners, a subject I’m more than a little familiar with.

And speaking of the anti-vaccinationists, here Orac addresses the latest article from reoccurring anti-vaccinationist columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Julie Deardorff.

Ken Ham - Missing Link?

Ken Ham - Missing Link?

Creation Museum prepares for Darwin’s anniversary –

“We’re going to have a couple [of] special exhibits opened: one on natural selection, showing that natural selection is not evolution; and another one on ape-men, showing that they are either apes or people and not in between. But we’re doing this in ready for the Darwin year,” Ham explains.

Creationists have never been able to grasp what a transitional species is. They just try to arbitrarily aside a fossil to one species or another. And as the chart provided on the blog linked to above illustrates, creationists are totally inconsistent in their classifications.

MASTERPIECE of crap THEATRE – Apparently blogger Slacktivist has been doing a detailed deconstruction of the first book of the Left Behind series – He’s been posting commentary on several pages at a time for years, making sure not to miss even a line of pure crappiness. So maybe the film adaptation of “Left Behind” being the worst movie ever made isn’t entirely the filmmakers’ fault. Only the directing, acting, casting, editing, score, and presumably catering. The shitty writing and vague racist overtones were there already. Here’s just a random clip to illustrate the film’s pure crappiness:

Misleading ads in Scientific American – The content is still top notch but the ads inside, not so much.

“Obama’s Momma was trash!”Dr. James David Manning goes off on Barack Obama. Leave Bristol Palin Alone!” The most entertaining video you’ll see in a while. It’s the new “Leave Britney Alone!.”

Creationist kook continually harassing atheist

PZ Myers vs. Chuck Norris

Catholic(?)’s ambiguous death threat against PZ Myers’ kid


Hate crime vandalism against atheists? – I’ve never been comfortable with the notion of “hate crimes.” Although I think there are valid points made on the other side of the issue there just always seemed to be something potentially Orwellian (and I don’t use that term lightly like so many others) about distinguishing a crime motivated by the denigration of a particular group, be it another race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or creed differently. Especially since so often these days it turns out to just be some stupid kids who didn’t know any better. Certainly motivation plays an important role in our judicial system, as it should but “hate crime” laws still somehow come off to me as criminalizing thought. I realize that the crime is the action taken and not the thought itself but in hate crime cases I think the line is blurred between the action and the thought behind it. But that all being said, I do believe in equal rights. And if we’re going to express greater outrage at swastika’s painted on Jewish gravestones, flaming crosses on people’s lawns, and painting “faggot” on someone’s home then I think the same level of outrage should be expressed when atheists are hit with similar behavior even when it veils itself in the otherwise benign-seeming “God Loves You.” In this usage and within the context of the other writing and the uninvited vandalism, these words might as well read, “God Hates Fags.” The intended meaning is the same.


Islam FAILS to censor the book, “The Jewel of Medina” by Sherry Jones – I’d previously blogged about how Random House shamefully gave in to terrorist fears and broke their contract by canceling publication of this book (here)

More on Near Death Experiences

Another great Venn diagram from Indexed:


Modest Carbon Dioxide Cutbacks May Be Too Little, Too Late For Coral Reefs – “How much carbon dioxide is too much? According to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) greenhouse gases in the atmosphere need to be stabilized at levels low enough to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

Physiological Traits Predict Political Views – “Is America’s red-blue divide based on voters’ physiology? A new paper in the journal Science, titled “Political Attitudes Are Predicted by Physiological Traits,” explores the link.”

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.”

Letter to the Editor – “Confronting the myth-makers about immunization”

September 19, 2008

I’ve just responded to an Editorial in the “Other Views” section of my local newspaper and it’ll hopefully make it into the paper in the next couple of days and with a minimal amount of changes. Anyway, I’ve decided to let my readers here at Skepacabra read it first:

“Regarding “Confronting facts and myths about immunization” (Other Views A-13, Sept. 18), Thank you for publishing this wonderful article by Mary Ellen Schoonmaker on the myths about vaccination being perpetuated in the popular media. I hope to see many more articles like this in the future.

My only disagreement is that Schoonmaker advises, “Parents should never be criticized for wanting the best for their children and wanting to protect their kids’ health and safety.” Normally this is a sound policy but leaders of the anti-vaccination movement such as David Kirby, Dan Olmstead, and Jenny McCarthy have crossed the line with organized campaigns of misinformation, as evidenced from their constant appeals to conspiracy theory that vilify all who disagree with them including Dr. Paul Offit.

Regardless of whether they believe their own propaganda or whether they happen to have autistic children, these movement leaders waste no time in making baseless public conspiracy accusations against the nation’s leading medical minds and organizations without considering the serious consequences of their libelous claims. And for this, they should receive harsh criticism for their poor character and judgment as well as having their arguments challenged. It’s the response we’d expect for any other propagandist and they should not receive special treatment because their children have autism.

I hope The Record continues to expose the misinformation of anti-vaccinationists while also elaborating on the details of the studies that have falsified these myths so that the science is demystified for readers who’ll have a better understanding of how we know what we know and see science isn’t authoritative like Kirby, Olmstead, and McCarthy think it is.”

There it is. I think I hit on a couple of good points there and gave positive feedback to the newspaper. So far I’ve got a pretty strong track record for getting my Letters to the Editor published there except for the last one, which might not have been my best.

Anyway, I encourage everyone to take advantage of the Letter to the Editor section of their local newspapers, especially if they live in small town neighborhoods because then they’re more likely to publish your work. And I know the circulation of my local paper far, far exceeds my blog readers.

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.18.08

September 19, 2008

The new brilliantly titled TV show “The Doctors” at least deserves some credit – A show they filmed and were going to air about vaccine safety that featured anti-vaccinationist Julia Berle of Generation Rescue (who gained her medical knowledge from the Internet and who MIGHT be a $cientologist) has been seemingly postponed indefinitely. I can only guess that the producers discovered this show would be inappropriate because Berle’s a total quack (correction: I didn’t mean to insult the quacks out there. Quacks at least have medical degrees). Of course, like every other anti-vaccinationist when they don’t get their way, Berle’s first and last conclusion is that it must be because of an evil Big Pharma conspiracy. Duh! What else? Obviously Big Pharma has nothing better to do but put pressure on the producers of an insipid daytime talk show to not air an episode that probably cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The case of Woo vs. Woo is over. Ramtha has spoken!A few days ago I blogged about JZ Knight, a New Age charlatan who claims to “channel” a 35,000 year old Atlantean warrior named Ramtha is suing a former student because she dared to cut in on Knight’s action. The trial is over and Knight won. I think the following advice to the jury from Knight’s attorney says it all:

“In closing arguments, Creatura asked the jury to set aside personal skepticism about Knight or her claim to channel Ramtha, a 35,000-year-old male warrior spirit, and to decide the case solely on legal issues.”


Virginia Tech just can’t catch a break – A Creation “Science” seminar is coming. This might be the worst thing to happen to Virginia Tech ever!

Finally, creationism proves useful in the classroom – A lesson on homology in evolution led 1 college professor to Conservapedia, ironically subtitled “The Trustworthy Encyclopedia.” I know what you’re thinking: only a really reliable source would feel the need to remind you how reliable it is. But anyway, the professor found a section on the page labeled “Invalidity of the Homology Argument,” which was a little odd considering homology is a method of comparing and reasoning rather than an assertion of truth. (It’s worth reading the professor’s whole blog entry on this here). This all led to a great lesson in class:

“We discussed in class a critical difference between a scientist and a creationist. Creationists think they have THE answer from the beginning, whereas a scientist has only a question in the beginning. While a creationist may accept absurd dogma and simplistic dismissals of rational ideas, a scientist looks for a way to test ideas. That willingness to test and to infer from the results of those tests the best explanations distinguishes the scientific method from the creationist method. [A great untruth of the Conservapedia’s entry on homology was its claim that there are creation ‘scientists’—creationists offer religious explanations and dismiss the results of repeatable scientific studies rather than using a scientific method.]”

And here’s another choice quote from the professor:

“The Conservapedia entry on homology seems more concerned with acceptance of “custom and tradition” as a basis for “truth of religious matters” than with possible comparisons we might make among organisms. Indeed, it seems that the Conservapedia aims to dismiss important scientific approaches through superficial allusions. Perhaps we should be wary of trusting the Conservapedia, despite its subtitle. “

Crows make monkeys out of chimps in mental test – Oh, can’t you 2 crazy kids get along?

FDA & FTC finally going after quacks? – Maybe 1 day I actually might not have to do their jobs for them.

This is what Richard Dawkins’ hate mail looks like:

Sarah Palin wins Rubber Dodo Award (yeah, I misread that headline the first time too):

How To Read People’s Minds:

I can only hope my wedding will one day reunite the cast of Star Trek:


No Such Thing As A ‘Safe’ Suntan? – “The authors of the three review papers – leading researchers in the fields of cell biology, dermatology and epidemiology – have examined the effects on skin of UV radiation, including that from indoor tanning beds. As well as highlighting the need for greater research into this area, they have called for the use of such beds by under-18s to be banned, along with any publicity that claims that tanning beds are safe.

Exposure to UV radiation — for example, from sunbathing or using an indoor tanning bed — affects the skin in a number of ways, including causing DNA damage, photoaging (damage to the skin from chronic exposure to sunlight) and skin cancer. UV radiation is the most ubiquitous carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) for humans, in whom skin is the organ most commonly affected by cancer.”

Early Whales Used Back Legs For Swimming – “The crashing of the enormous fluked tail on the surface of the ocean is a “calling card” of modern whales. Living whales have no back legs, and their front legs take the form of flippers that allow them to steer. Their special tails provide the powerful thrust necessary to move their huge bulk. Yet this has not always been the case.

Reporting in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, paleontologist Mark D. Uhen of the Alabama Museum of Natural History describes new fossils from Alabama and Mississippi that pinpoint where tail flukes developed in the evolution of whales.”

Skin Cells Turned Into Insulin-producing Cells – “Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have transformed cells from human skin into cells that produce insulin, the hormone used to treat diabetes.”

Researchers Suppress ‘Hunger Hormone’ In Pigs – “Johns Hopkins scientists report success in significantly suppressing levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin in pigs using a minimally invasive means of chemically vaporizing the main vessel carrying blood to the top section, or fundus, of the stomach. An estimated 90 percent of the body’s ghrelin originates in the fundus, which can’t make the hormone without a good blood supply.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.17.08

September 18, 2008

Dover and over and over again – The Brunswick school board in North Carolina is now apparently considering teaching creationism (complete with the magic talking snake) alongside evolution in science classes. Every time we have this issue settled in the courts, creationism has LOST, first in the Scopes Monkey Trial, then again in the Supreme Court in 1987, and then 3 years ago in the Dover Trial (complete trial transcripts here). At this point all they should need to do if creationism is allowed to be taught is to take them to court and hand the judge a copy of Judge Jones complete 139-page Dover decision here. Until then, contact the NC elected officials, urging them to stop this from happening and ridicule North Carolina as much as possible.


Burr, Richard– (R – NC) Class III
(202) 224-3154
Web Form:
Dole, Elizabeth– (R – NC) Class II
(202) 224-6342
Web Form:…

Other contact info. can be found here.

Anti-vaccinationists: aluminum is the new mercury – Okay, most of us keeping tabs on the anti-vaccinationists have known that it was only a matter of time before they moved on from the thimerosal claims to something else. After all, thimerosal was the new (something else) only a few years ago until the evidence against whatever “toxin” within vaccines they blamed for all the evil in the world grew so strong they couldn’t deny it anymore and had to abandon it, shifting the blame over to thimerosal. So it was inevitable that they’d eventually abandon the thimerosal dead-end and shift their scapegoat to yet another “something else” within vaccines. And for months now it was looking like that new “something else” was going to be the aluminum in vaccines. And those suspicions are turning out to be correct as the antivaccinationists have started their campaign to slowly shift the argument away from thimerosal onto aluminum in such a subtle manner as to hope to avoid being called out on having so passionately insisted that thimerosal was to blame. Here’s the new party line:

“Here’s my best response to the thimerosal argument: While definitely it’s not good to inject children with mercury, I think that’s only a part of the problem. I think that thimerosal can make the aluminum even more toxic because the two metals are reactive, and if it’s true that thimerosal reduces glutathione (I found this study on TACA), then children’s bodies would be less capable of excreting the aluminum.”

So I’m left wondering what the next “something else” will be in a few years after the preponderance of evidence against aluminum becomes too great for them to ignore? We’re running out of ingredients. Will it be the trace amounts of flu itself? Perhaps just the sharp, pointy thing at the end of the needle? I’m going with the sharp, pointy thing at the end of the needle.


Catholic priest charged with selling cocaine at church – It could have been worse. He could have been selling religion.

Vatican launching “evolution congress” – But is it “strictly science” as they claim or is their own superstition invited too?


Mickey Mouse must die! – A Muslim cleric is apparently issuing a fatwa against Mickey:

“Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases.”

Draw Muhammad; win $100

One word: PLASTICS – Is the Bisphenol A found in plastics safe?

And speaking of graduates . . .

You can’t spell GraDuatiOn without the GOD – At the University of Alberta, the graduation ceremony includes the chancellor saying this:

“I charge you to use [the powers, rights, and privileges of University degrees] for the glory of God.”

Shockingly, the atheist student takes issue with this.


Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding are pissed that California now issues gender neutral marriage licenses – So choosing the most illogical and childish response they could think of, they’ve decided to protest by making their own lives more difficult. Good thinking, you guys!

Anti-vaccinationists’ epic stupidity knows no bounds – Apparently Age of Autism is bummed that the National Institute of Mental Health has chosen not to use children as lab rats in an ill-conceived chelation study because chelation therapy is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and because it’s already proven beyond any reasonable doubt to have no positive effect on autism! As the Associated Press states:

“The treatment removes heavy metals from the body and is based on the fringe theory that mercury in vaccines triggers autism — a theory never proved and rejected by mainstream science.”

Age of Autism’s argument is to compare the risk to the infinitely smaller risks of chemotherapy and radiation in cancer cases, proving once again that vaccines don’t poison children; anti-vaccinationists do (when they get their way). Orac discusses this further here. Seriously, Age of Autism might as well at this point be promoting cyanide as a cure for autism . . . or leeches.


Fastest Flights In Nature: High-speed Spores – “Microscopic coprophilous or dung-loving fungi help make our planet habitable by degrading the billions of tons of feces produced by herbivores. But the fungi have a problem: survival depends upon the consumption of their spores by herbivores and few animals will graze on grass next to their own dung.

Evolution has overcome this obstacle by producing an array of mechanisms of spore discharge whose elegance transforms a cow pie into a circus of microscopic catapults, trampolines, and squirt guns.”

Biodiversity, Glaciers At Risk In Warmer World – “The earth will warm about 2.4° C (4.3° F) above pre-industrial levels even under extremely conservative greenhouse-gas emission scenarios and under the assumption that efforts to clean up particulate pollution continue to be successful, according to a new analysis by a pair of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.”

Scientists Find Black Hole ‘Missing Link’ – “Scientists at Durham University have found the “missing link” between small and super-massive black holes.”

Carbon Material: Breakthrough In Energy Storage – “Engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have achieved a breakthrough in the use of a one-atom thick structure called “graphene” as a new carbon-based material for storing electrical charge in ultracapacitor devices, perhaps paving the way for the massive installation of renewable energies such as wind and solar power.”

Why Some SIV-Infected Primates Don’t Get AIDS – “Key differences in immune system signaling and the production of specific immune regulatory molecules may explain why some primates are able to live with an immunodeficiency virus infection without progressing to AIDS-like illness, unlike other primate species, including rhesus macaques and humans, that succumb to disease.”

Whale Songs Heard Around New York City Waters – “For the first time in waters surrounding New York City, the beckoning calls of endangered fin, humpback and North Atlantic right whales have been recorded, according to experts from the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).”

Watch And Learn: Time Teaches Us How To Recognize Visual Objects – “In work that could aid efforts to develop more brain-like computer vision systems, MIT neuroscientists have tricked the visual brain into confusing one object with another, thereby demonstrating that time teaches us how to recognize objects.

It may sound strange, but human eyes never see the same image twice. An object such as a cat can produce innumerable impressions on the retina, depending on the direction of gaze, angle of view, distance and so forth. Every time our eyes move, the pattern of neural activity changes, yet our perception of the cat remains stable.”

Example of stimuli used by Li and DiCarlo. An image of a sailboat is presented at different locations in the visual field. In most cases, it remains unchanged as the eyes move toward it, but at one test location, the stimulus is swapped for a teacup during the eye movement. As monkeys are exposed to this altered visual world, neurons in their brains begin to confuse the two objects when shown at the test location. The confusion is exactly that which is expected if the brain uses temporal contiguity to teach it how to recognize objects.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.13.08

September 14, 2008


Woo v. Woo – JZ Knight, a New Age charlatan who claims to “channel” a 35,000 year old Atlantean warrior named Ramtha is suing a former student because she dared to cut in on Knight’s action based on Ramtha’s advice. As PZ Myers says:

“The only thing that could make the trial sillier is if the court put Ramtha on the witness stand.”

And here’s a very telling excerpt from the article:

Knight’s attorneys claim Weaver copied seven school processes, including Fieldwork, an exercise designed to improve ability to focus attention and intuition by finding a symbolic card on a fence while blindfolded.

“Is Pin the Tail on the Donkey focused attention?” Spellman asked Wright.

“It could be,” Wright replied.

“So, then is it Fieldwork?” Spellman said.

“No, it’s Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” Wright said.

And then this:

Kilborne, on cross-examination, was not impressed.

“Isn’t it the flat truth that there is no Ramtha?” he asked.

“That is incorrect,” said Knight, who hosted a conference of scientists at her school to investigate the Ramtha phenomenon. “And science proved in 1997 that Ramtha was not me.”

I knew they had to update those science textbooks!

Woo settles in Woo v. Ben Goldacre – Alt. Med. quack Matthias Rath sued Goldacre for libel and the case has finally settled in Goldacre’s favor. Suck it, Rath!

Strike 3 for Andy Schlafly of Conservapædia (not to be confused with that evil, anti-creationist biased Wikipedia) – Twice before, Schlafly has received a sufficient intellectual beating in his crusade against to find some argument to use against Richard Lensky’s irrefutable proof for Evolution, but like a good masochist, Schlafly had to come back for yet another pounding . . . which the Editorial Board was happy to give him.

Play the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator – What would your name be had you been born to Sarah Palin?

Was the Large Hadron Collider worth all that money?

How much tuna is too much in one week? – As many of you know, canned tuna contains mercury, which in large quantities can be very dangerous. This article elaborates on how much tuna individuals can consume in a week to avoid going beyond the safe levels of mercury. I also really enjoyed this comment from one of the blog’s readers:

“An aside about heavy metals in food: According to ‘The Elements of Murder – A History of Poison‘ by John Emsley, we accumulate so much mercury in our bodies from our environment, that, by most world nutritional regulations for the amount of mercury allowable in meat for consumption, one in every ten people would be unsuitable as food for cannibals.”

So maybe exceeding the safe levels of mercury consumption will 1 day save your life.

In yet another beautiful piece of the pot calling the kettle black, after years of attacting Dr. Paul Offit’s character and making baseless conspirac accusatons about him, anti-vaxxeers Age of Autism chastize Offit for addressing Robert Kennedy Jr.’s criminal record (presumably in addition to refuting Kennedy’s claims though AoA would have us believe that Offit only attacks Kennedy’s character and not his claims). Oddly, now they’ve decided to pretend they’ve been fair to Offit all along while attacking his character as they deny having attacked his characer. Now that’s impressive.

Age of Autism is also promoting “Autism File Magazine,” praising it for it’s experts and advocates from around the world. So if they’re praising it, that can only mean 1 thing, that “the experts” who run the rag embrace the vaccine myth. If it didn’t, AoA would be attacking it as viciously as they do Paul Offit, Barack Obama, Amanda Peet, every medical study that’s ever proven them wrong, and anyone who publically disagrees with them.


Miscalculation In Geological Record Uncovered – “The precise timing of the origin of life on Earth and the changes in life during the past 4.5 billion years has been a subject of great controversy for the past century . . . It appears that records related to carbonate platforms which are often used throughout the early history of the Earth are not good recorders of the 13C/12C ratio in the open oceans. Hence, the work presented suggests that assumptions made previously about changes in the 13C/12C ratios of carbonate sediments in the geological record are incorrect.” Even though science once again proves itself to be self-correcting, non-authoritative, and able change its conclusions when shown new evidence, I expect creationists will falsely trumpet this story as further proof of the evil scientist conspiracy to deny god.

DNA ‘Tattoos’ Link Adult, Daughter Stem Cells – “Using the molecular equivalent of a tattoo on DNA that adult stem cells (ASC) pass to their “daughter” cells in combination with gene expression profiles, University of Utah researchers have identified two early steps in adult stem cell differentiation—the process that determines whether cells will form muscle, neurons, skin, etc., in people and animals.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.12.08

September 13, 2008


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.


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, 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.”


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.


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.”

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 9.6.08

September 7, 2008

Church pissed at musician Katy Perry for kissing a girl and liking it – You know the song. Well a church responded to those sinful lyrics they hated so much with the sign posted to your left. The reverend responsible illustrated the intelligence of his parish by stating he has heard from people who either were not familiar with the song and didn’t understand the cultural reference, or didn’t understand the message.

What was his defense then for the sign?

“We meant that as a loving warning to teens.”

Sure ya did.

Orgins Conference at CalTech Oct. 4 to feature scientists and creationists – Yeah, I figured the easiest way to avoid the silly creationist term “evolutionists” is to just call them scientists. Being a scientist isn’t just what you do but who you are. Some creationists might do science but that doesn’t make them scientists.

Another look at abstinence-only sex education vs. actual sex education

Anti-vaxxers try to sell Barack Obama and NJ Governor Corzine on their pseudoscience – It’s unclear at this time whether they made an impression. But considering NJ is now mandating flu vaccines for pre-schoolers it’d be hard for Corzine to change the law now.


Pyrenees Glaciers: Gone In Less Than 50 Years? – “Much has been said about the situation of the glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, but little is known about those in the high mountain areas of the Iberian Peninsular. A Spanish research study has revealed, for the first time, that now only the Pyrenees has active glaciers.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.5.08

September 6, 2008

Alternative Medicine News:

Accupuncture for babies – “When Savannah was diagnosed with autism a few months ago, Mary turned to acupuncture, in addition to more traditional therapies, to see if it would help. She said since the treatment began 10 weeks ago, the results have been encouraging.” -Does this article make anyone else feel like vomiting? As I reported before, acupuncture does not work!

Crap-Based Medicine and the medical territory Alt Med practitioners avoid at all cost

There’s a new movie being developed on the life of Charles Darwin – And it’s got an awesome cast. Hopefully, this will rock!

How To Improve Science Education

Just because? – The BBC has an article on correlation vs. causation – Perhaps Dr. Buttar can learn something from this.

John Stossel exposes the insanity of food fads like the raw food nuts – I tend to like Stossel a little bit more than PalMD seems to. I think Stossel can sometimes be a very good skeptic though sometimes he just misses the mark like when he criticized Michael Moore’s film by parroting the sillier arguments like that people would have to wait on long lines. But yeah, these raw food people are crazy.

Orac shares my current feelings about constantly blogging about anti-vaxxers – I’d really love it if the anti-vaxxers took a break from doing and saying stupid things so I could blog about something else for a little while. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look likely to happen any time soon. I think I’ll dub this phenomena of forcing bloggers to respond to one’s insanely stupid statements “The Palin Effect.”

Jon Stewart exposes Republican hypocrasy – A must-see clip

Fun with pareidolia, courtesy of Dr. Phil Plait:

First, from this funny piece from The Onion:

Followed by this real example of pareidolia, the Virgin Mary on a grape:

Minorities + Religion = Depression – New longitudinal study shows that for whites and blacks, religious participation leads to “fewer symptoms of depression.” But not so much if you don’t fit into these two camps.


Virtual Telescope Zooms In On Super Black Hole – “An international team, led by astronomers at the MIT Haystack Observatory, has obtained the closest views ever of what is believed to be a super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.”

Sun’s Role In Solar System Formation Questioned – “A strange mix of oxygen found in a stony meteorite that exploded over Pueblito de Allende, Mexico nearly 40 years ago has puzzled scientists ever since. Small flecks of minerals lodged in the stone and thought to date from the beginning of the solar system have a pattern of oxygen types, or isotopes, that differs from those found in all known planetary rocks, including those from Earth, its Moon and meteorites from Mars.”

Did Junk DNA Trigger Changes In Human Limbs? – “Out of the 3 billion genetic letters that spell out the human genome, Yale scientists have found a handful that may have contributed to the evolutionary changes in human limbs that enabled us to manipulate tools and walk upright.”

Last Woolly Mammoths Had North American Roots – “In a surprising reversal of conventional wisdom, a DNA-based study has revealed that the last of the woolly mammoths—which lived between 40,000 and 4,000 years ago—had roots that were exclusively North American.” – Once again science proves decidedly un-dogmatic and able to make new conclusions based on the evidence.