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.