News From Around The Blogosphere 12.1.09

December 2, 2009

1. Carl Wieland, head of Creation Ministries International, dared David Nicholls of the Atheist Foundation of Australia to organize an “atheist” vs. creationist debate at the upcoming large atheist conference in Melbourne (you see, it’s an “atheists” vs. the creationists debate at an atheist conference because Wieland wants his flock to belief evolution is just the religion of atheism and not accepted facts that people accept regardless of whether or not they’re religious). Nicholls hilariously declined the request:

If you skirt the question about accredited articles, then it is no wonder you are having trouble finding people to debate. Debate is not science, it is playing upon the prejudices of the audience. Scientific conclusion is about peer reviewing work from accredited scientific journals. I really can’t see Professor Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers or any real scientist taking seriously or bothering to debate about alien abductions even though millions believe it to be true. There are just no credible studies on this as there are no credible scientific studies that support creationism.

Wieland of course went to PZ Myers himself, who responded with nothing but the image presented above.

2. Has science validated the ancient Ayurvedic ‘Neti pot’ as a legitimate medical treatment? – I first heard about the Neti pot a few years ago when it was featured in an episode of Six Feet Under. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of it but had since become somewhat skeptical of it from the little literature I’ve seen on it. A recent review article in American Family Physician found it effective adjunctive therapy for symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis (and they say real “Western” medicine only treats the symptoms). Well a new study made some interesting findings about the Neti pot. It seems that while it may be effective in treating short-term nasal irrigation, long-term use can be harmful.

3. Freedom From Religion Foundation gets strong atheist sign up in Illinois Capitol Building for second year in a row – The text is very similar to the text used on last year’s Washington display that I wasn’t too pleased with, so this is kind of a mixed bag. While I’m willing to be more abrasive towards religion in other venues, I don’t think it’s appropriate to stick such a mean-spirited message on a federal building, regardless of the cause. You choose your battles and you take your audience into account. I don’t even encourage strong anti-religious sentiments on billboards but sticking it on government land is far harder to reasonably defend. It’s one thing when cranks complain that the entirely inoffensive billboards are attacks on their faith because they’ll be seen for what they are, cranks. But you put out actual attacks on people’s beliefs on government property and you’re the one who looks like the giant douche. And I’m really starting to think Dan Barker is a douche.

The Rufus Factor

4. Naked mole rats may be key to human survival from stroke

Two University of Illinois at Chicago researchers report in the Dec. 9 issue of NeuroReport (now online) that adult naked mole rat brain tissue can withstand extreme hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, for periods exceeding a half-hour — much longer than brain tissue from other mammals.

The findings may yield clues for better treatment of brain injuries associated with heart attack, stroke and accidents where the brain is starved of vital oxygen.

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.11.08

September 12, 2008

Before evolution came prevolution -Exploring the question of how life began.

Quadrature – My favorite new word of the day. And it leads into an interesting blog on CAM.

And speaking of CAM, I’ve talked about Ayurveda before but Yahoo News had an interesting article on this nasty bit crap-based medicine.

Are Catholic Apologists stealing the atheists’ Scarlet Letter symbol? – Sorry guys, the Scarlet Letter traditionally represents the persecuted and otherwise marginalized positions of society like adulteress, abolitionist, abortionist, and atheist. When you’re part of the ruling class you don’t get to use it. Contrary to their rhetoric, Catholic Apologists wouldn’t know real persecution if it was right in front of them.

Jesus Water – What is it about water that people feel the need to always ascribe magic properties to it? IT’S FREAKIN’ WATER!

But here’s a product I would like to own:

You put in a copy of The Passion of the Christ and it converts it into The Golden Compass. If only.

Matt Damon on Sarah Palin. I couldn’t say it better myself:


Flies, Too, Feel The Influence Of Their Peers – “We all know that people can be influenced in complex ways by their peers. But two new studies in the September 11th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveal that the same can also be said of fruit flies.”

DNA Study Reveals Evolution Of Beer Yeasts – “Lager lovers convinced that their beer of choice stands alone should prepare to drink their words this Oktoberfest. New research by geneticists at the Stanford University School of Medicine indicates that the brew, which accounts for the majority of commercial beer production worldwide, owes its existence to an unlikely pairing between two species of yeast – one of which has been used for thousands of years to make ale.”

Immaturity Of The Brain May Cause Schizophrenia – “The underdevelopment of a specific region in the brain may lead to schizophrenia in individuals. According to research published today in BioMed Central’s open access journal Molecular Brain, dentate gyrus, which is located in the hippocampus in the brain and thought to be responsible for working memory and mood regulation, remained immature in an animal model of schizophrenia.”

Brightest Gamma-ray Burst Was Aimed At Earth – “Astronomers from around the world combined data from ground- and space-based telescopes to paint a detailed portrait of the brightest explosion ever seen. The observations reveal that the jets of the gamma-ray burst called GRB 080319B were aimed almost directly at the Earth.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 8.27.08

August 28, 2008

Stem cell technology may make blood donations a thing of the past

Proof that prayer works? – Not quite. Remember when Focus on the Family asked people to pray for rain during the DNC and it didn’t happen but by then everyone forgot all about it? Well, apparently god missed and instead a sprinkler went off, flooding a skybox booth belonging to Fox News. I guess even god hates Fox News.

The standing of science in America – Interesting column from Science Progress. Here’s it’s conclusion:

“Americans might tune in to some science news, visit science museums, and even adjust their diets and prescriptions based upon the latest studies. But it’s not enough. Without anything beyond a surface-level appreciation of science, they stand far too blind when staring down something of paramount importance: The future.”

Where do you get your mercury? – Today’s issue of JAMA has an interesting study of Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicines. It turns out that many of them contain a significant amount of toxic heavy metals…including mercury, and much higher levels than the minute traces found in a flu vaccine. Here, we’re dealing with actual dangerous levels of the stuff.

Christians continue their long-honored tradition of crappy knock-offs of other people’s video games

SECULAR VALUE VOTERS! – The Secular Coalition for America is taking back the word “values” from the Religious Right.

Stephen Colbert better know an atheist tomorrow – My favorite secular lobbyist Lori Lipman Brown is to appear on The Colbert Report tomorrow night (Thursday) during the “Better Know A Lobbyist” segment.

A Christian Critique of $cientology – This is a funny piece in the way it compares the 2 remarkably similar belief systems, though to be clear, while Christianity has some cult-like behaviors, Scientology is a cult in the strictest sense of the word. And it’s important to clarify that as insanely dopey as their beliefs are, my principle criticism is of their cult behavior because otherwise they’ll just try to get away with claiming we’re just bigoted towards their “religion.”


Yet another Creationist EPIC FAIL! – This time they’re taken down by the publication Chemical and Engineering News.


First Prehistoric Pregnant Turtle Discovered – “A 75-million-year-old fossil of a pregnant turtle and a nest of fossilized eggs that were discovered in the badlands of southeastern Alberta by scientists and staff from the University of Calgary and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology are yielding new ideas on the evolution of egg-laying and reproduction in turtles and tortoises.”

Hobbit-like Dwarfs: Bone Parts Don’t Add Up – “Misinterpreted fragments of leg bones, teeth and brow ridges found in Palau appear to be an archaeologist’s undoing, according to researchers at three institutions. They say that the so-called dwarfs of these Micronesian islands actually were modern, normal-sized hunters and gatherers.” Ugh, you just know the creationists are going to misrepresent this story and play it up as “proof” that evolution is wrong. Though kinda odd that the “evolutionists” discovered the error while The Discovery Institute still hasn’t spent one cent on actual research. Science is self-correcting.

Is Extinction Or Diversity On The Rise? – “It’s no secret that humans are having a huge impact on the life cycles of plants and animals. UC Santa Barbara’s Steven D. Gaines and fellow researcher Dov Sax decided to test that theory by studying the world’s far-flung islands.”