News From Around The Blogosphere 7.2.09

July 3, 2009

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these, but it saves a lot of time. Anyway. . .

1. Age of Autism attacks Eric London – Man, didn’t see that coming. Oh yeah, I did. So what tactic did they go with? They latched onto the Autism Science Foundation’s (ASF) unwillingness to blindly promote the long disproven vaccine/autism hypothesis in order to create a straw man that paints him and the ASF as dogmatically opposed to researching vaccines. Of course, the ASF is not dogmatically opposed to vaccine research:

Vaccine safety research should continue to be conducted by the public health system in order to ensure vaccine safety and maintain confidence in our national vaccine program, but further investment of limited autism research dollars is not warranted at this time.

And nothing in Katie Wright’s smear piece makes a convincing argument for a link between vaccines and autism, just the standard collecting of cherry-picked anecdotal accounts. And rather amusingly she accuses him of being soooooo dogmatic in his certainty that vaccines were not responsible for her child’s condition in the same article where she states:

I have always accepted that London’s belief that vaccines had nothing to do with his son’s autism, but no one is going to tell me that they “know” what happened or did not happen to my child.

Apparently, except yourself. Pot. Kettle. Black.

2. Fired from the Boy Scouts for being an atheist – Neil Polzin has been fired from the publicly funded Boy Scouts of America simply because he does not believe in Yahweh.

3.  Ice cream ad depicting ‘sexy’ nun and priest is banned

4.The Jefferson Code – “For more than 200 years, buried deep within Thomas Jefferson’s correspondence and papers, there lay a mysterious cipher — a coded message that appears to have remained unsolved


PZ Myers responds to Charlotte Allen’s anti-atheist bigoted rant

May 22, 2009

Several days ago, Charlotte Allen wrote a vitriolic attack against atheists that was published in the LA Times. It seems she’s no fan of the atheist and she wants everyone to know it. Well, after many atheists wrote responses, PZ Myers decided to jump into the ring too, and it is superb. I particularly like his opening:

Charlotte Allen is very, very angry with us atheists — that’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from her furious broadside in The Times on May 17. She can’t stand us; we’re unpopular; we’re a problem. What, exactly, is the greatest crime of modern atheists?

We’re boring.

I can’t actually argue with that. It’s true. We’re all just ordinary people — your neighbors, your friends, your relatives. I know atheists who are accountants, real estate agents, schoolteachers, lawyers, soldiers, journalists, even ministers (but don’t tell their congregations!). Our leading lights are college professors, scientists, philosophers, theologians and other such pedantic, scholarly riffraff. For entertainment, they read books, and if they want to do something ambitious and dramatic, they write books. I’m one of them, so trust me, I know — we don’t exactly live the James Bond lifestyle. Calling us boring is a fair cop.

But still — why would anyone get angry about that?

PZ definitely hits all the most important points and does so in good humor. So I’d just like to say, great job PZ!

Tony48219 kills atheist YouTuber and self

April 13, 2009

Infamous fundamentalist YouTuber Tony48219 was involved in a Murder Suicide in a Detroit University on Friday. He shot and killed 20-year-old student and YouTube user Asia McGowen in a classroom before turning the gun on himself. He allegedly made a video in the empty classroom prior to this incident.

The VenomFangX & Tony48219 show:

In light of the recent tragedy involving Tony and Asia McGowen, a very
important question for Shawn aka “VenomFangX” is asked at the end of this video:

It’s not a game, Shawn. What you say on the internet has real world consequences.

A message from Asia McGowan:

My thoughts go out to the families of both victims.

25 musicians against religion & a double standard

November 29, 2008

25 musicians against religion

Double Standard?

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Attributed to, but not actually said by Voltaire)

Out of the 2 bulletins presented here, which do you think is the more offensive? And which of the 2 do you think was effectively banned?

News From Around The Blogosphere 8.23.08

August 24, 2008

Open Letter to the Democratic Party Regarding “Interfaith Gathering” – This was written by The Coalition of Secular Voters. The DNC has decided to not only ignore but outright spurn non-religious democratic voters, so a demonstration is planned for 24 August at the Colorado Convention Center, which you can RSVP too. And apparently the Boulder Atheists will also be turning out. Let your displeasure be known. The DNC has to be shown that they’ve made a great mistake by alienating an important part of their base.

Tom Willis: “Clearly then, ‘evolutionists should not be allowed to roam free in the land.'” – And for some reason he thinks I’m a socialist. What does he propose as his “final solution” (my choice of words, not his) to the “evolutionism problem”?

For the purposes of this essay, I will ignore the minor issue of Western-style jurisprudence and merely mention possible solutions to the “evolutionism problem,” leaving the legal details to others:

  • Labor camps. Their fellow believers were high on these. But, my position would be that most of them have lived their lives at, or near the public trough. So, after their own beliefs, their life should continue only as long as they can support themselves in the camps.

  • Require them to wear placards around their neck, or perhaps large medallions which prominently announce “Warning: Evolutionist! Mentally Incompetent – Potentially Dangerous.” I consider this option too dangerous.

  • Since evolutionists are liars and most do not really believe evolution we could employ truth serum or water-boarding to obtain confessions of evolution rejection. But, this should, at most, result in parole, because, like Muslims, evolutionist religion permits them to lie if there is any benefit to them.

  • An Evolutionist Colony in Antarctica could be a promising option. Of course inspections would be required to prevent too much progress. They might invent gunpowder. A colony on Mars would prevent gunpowder from harming anyone but their own kind, in the unlikely event they turned out to be intelligent enough to invent it.

  • All options should include 24-hour sound system playing Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris reading Darwin’s Origin of Species, or the preservation of Favored Races by Means of Natural Selection. Of course some will consider this cruel & unusual, especially since they will undoubtedly have that treatment for eternity.

Yup, 2 more stories about anti-vaccines – The first is courtesy of my friend Brian. It’s another amazingly pro-vaccine story coming out of MSNBC (possibly the only mainstream news source right now to remain loyal to medicine on this issue). The story is about the aptly named Ashland, Oregon, a particularly anti-science, anti-vaccine Hellmouth where 30% of the kindergarten students have been allowed to opt out of some or all vaccines with exemptions, effectively busting giant holes in the region’s herd immunity.

And the second anti-vaxxer story comes from science blogger Orac and is actually good news for a change. Dr. Paul Offit, known to the anti-vaxxers as the Dark Lord of Vaccination because he actually knows what he’s talking about, has published a book on the controversy called, Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure:

2 board members from the Secular Student Alliance give a point-counterpoint on PZ Myers’ Crackergate “scandal.”

Jesus’ Sermon on the Brokeback Mount?

Most Christians have never heard of the Secret Gospel of Mark, which was found inscribed in a letter by Greek historian Clement of Alexandria . . . One text from the letter hints that the Bible’s account of Mark’s gospel originally told the tale of Jesus raising a man from the dead and then having an intimate relationship with him, said Aaron Weaver, a senior at LCCC and president of the college atheist club.

Skeptico (not to be confused with Skeptiko) designs protocol to test the oft-used excuse by psychics, etc. that they can’t perform under scientifically controlled conditions because of the presence of skeptics giving out “negative energy.”

The Real Religious Terrorism, by Sarah Braasch at Freedom from Religion Foundation. Here’s a sad story of a childhood as a Jehovah’s Witness. This is what atheists mean when they say religion gets a free ride: if parents treated their children this way in the name of anything other than religion, society would universally recoil in horror. (Thanks Greta Christina)

Creationist school utterly fails its students:

“”…we’re given every theory from The Theory of Intelligent Design to the Theory of Evolution.” –yeah, that’s why you’re not getting science credit, honey. They only give science credit for learning science, not voodoo.

Wow. For the first time, I’ve got no big science news to report on my News From Around The Blogosphere segment. Maybe tomorrow.

And now for something completely different:

Bible in a Minute

News From Around The Blogosphere 7.29.08

July 30, 2008

TV watching possibly linked to autism –  “Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3.” This is the kind of thing you get when you confuse correlation with causation. You could make the same claim about the rise of the internet correlation with the rise of autism except for the fact that there is no proven rise in autism at all. We’ve broadened the definition of autism and made it more visible, but there still is no proof that autism is on the rise or that it is “an epidemic.”

NASA turns 50 Today! – On this day in 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This is another example of why it’s important for a president to have an understanding of science. Just like presidential administrations have foreign policies, they have science policies. Presidents often make major decisions that have lasting effects on the direction of science.

City Workers in Birmingham are not reading this right now -The Birmingham City Council has installed blocking software on their computers that block out atheist websites. And atheist content isn’t alone on the blocked list. The following subjects are blocked: “witchcraft or Satanism” and “occult practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or any other form of mysticism”.

How YOU can put evolution back into museums -Colin Purrington provides a list of helpful ideas on how the average person can help promote further emphasis on evolution in museums. Remember: only you can prevent creationist nonsense! (Note: This is less likely to work in art museums)

Evolve-Eyes on History Channel Tonight -Okay, I’m a bit late in reporting it but I’m sure they’re rerun it. And I’ve already seen creationists slam it before seeing it, so it’s gotta be good! Biologist PZ Myers’ running commentary of the program.

NY Times op-ed calling for closer monitoring of UFOs -Oh yeah, we’ll get right on that. [rolls poorly evolved eyes]

An English Holocaust Denier In New York -Infamous Holocaust David Irving after being released from Austrian jail for the crime of “trivializing the Holocaust” (that for the record, is something I don’t think should be a crime), is touring the U.S. to spread his unique brand of nonsense and Anti-Semitism. Along for the ride is his friend and partner in crime, Michael Santamauro (owner of the New York-based roommate service, who specifically aided Irving in tricking a church’s priest into hosting the lecture by claiming the speaker was the leader of an anodyne “book club.” This news even managed to get The Huffington Post to take time away from their busy anti-vaccine propaganda, usually provided by David Kirby to publish an article by Max Blumenthal about David Irving’s recent visit.

Another important part that’s necessary to comment on is the role Christopher Hitchens plays in the story. Hitchens had in the past published what some have called a favorable article on Irving and Irving has himself claimed that he and Hitchens are friends. Apparently though, nobody told Hitchens this, as he’s written an essay where he rips Irving apart.

And now a moment of science:

Amazon Insect Diversity Due To Ice Age? -“Ice age climate change and ancient flooding–but not barriers created by rivers–may have promoted the evolution of new insect species in the Amazon region of South America, a new study suggests.”