I Heart Steve Novella

January 15, 2009

Steve Novella has been debating creationist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor of the creationists “think” tank the Discovery Institute over the materialist versus dualist model brain for the better part of year. And in that time Steve has tryied to explain to this accomplished doctor logic that even the average 8-year-old is capable of grasping.

But to no avail. Egnor has continued to deny and deny and deny the most basic principles of science and reason, all the while Steve’s rebuttals have been getting more and more devastating. But I think this battle of wit versus witless may have finally come to any end. Steve has totally knocked Egnor on his anti-materialist ass in his latest rebuttal. It’s a work of art. At this point I just really can’t even imagine why Steve would even bother to continue. Egnor is the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, insisting the battle isn’t over yet after each of his limbs have been cut off. Egnor is now left with only his head and a small portion of what used to be his torso.

Steve says this is an example of casuistry, which means:

Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead.

I just call it an epic fail.

[UPDATE: Steve will be on NPR tomorrow 1/16 at 9:30am EST discussing this issue. Michael Egnor may also be on]






News From Around The Blogosphere 01.02.09

January 3, 2009

creationism-cartoon-i-will-not-teach-horse-shitDid science crush creationism in Texas – This has been major battle in the school board over the last few months but it looks like it might be yet another victory for science and reason. 2009 is already shaping up to be a bad year for creationists since Kent Hovind appeal was also rejected a few days ago. Good work, Texas scientists and educators!

And ever since the creationists lost the Dover Trial, Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute has been trying to spin their defeat as just part of the evil Leftist scientist conspiracy. Lately he’s been taking aim specifically at one of the chief witnesses at that trial, Biologist Dr. Ken Miller. Here, Miller addresses Luskin’s weak charges and smokes him again.

12 Elegant Examples of Evolution

STATS dubious data awards for 2008 – Awards for “some of the worst abuses for science and statistics in the past year.” Some of the cases presented relate to bisphenol A in plastics, The Physicians Committee for “Responsible” Medicine (quotation marks mine), the alleged rainfall and autism connection, toxic shower curtains, acupuncture and fertility, and of course pixie dust.

Christian Right upset over eco-friendly Bible:


foil-hatOld, Senile, and Ignorant – Charlie Daniels gets up on his appropriated named “Soapbox” to bitch and complain about how atheists are responsible for 9/11 while revealing that he knows nothing about atheists and hasn’t bothered to read any of the recent atheist literature. If you replaced all references to atheists and replaced it with women, blacks, Jews, gays, or any other marginalized group, people would be outraged. But it’s atheists, so it’s all okay.

thestupiditburnsA bus matron who was supposed to be assisting a young man with cerebral palsy abandoned him in the bus, still strapped to his seat while it was parked in the bus depot. . .for 17 hours because she didn’t want to be late for church.

The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without Gods – Eric Maisel’s new book tries to answer the question, “How can a person make meaning in a universe that cares nothing about meaning?”


scientist-use-in-case-of-emergency12,900-year-old Nanodiamond-rich Soil Found – “Abundant tiny particles of diamond dust exist in sediments dating to 12,900 years ago at six North American sites, adding strong evidence for Earth’s impact with a rare swarm of carbon-and-water-rich comets or carbonaceous chondrites, reports a nine-member scientific team.” According to Young Earth Creationists, that soil is 6,900 years older than the whole universe.

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.30.08

December 31, 2008

Skepchick names The Top 10 Skeptics Who Kicked Ass in 2008 – Find out who made the list. I’m also quoted in this blog making it EXTRA special. Also, I was the first to suggest one of the winners to Rebecca, Sanal Edamaruku.

After his colossal error this year involving not understanding the meaning of the word “eponymous”, Casey Luskin of the creationist “think” tank Discovery Institute botches up again.

creationism-cartoon-a-miracle-occursIndiana Congressman Mark Souder on Intelligent Design

I personally believe that there is no issue more important to our society than intelligent design. I believe that if there wasn’t a purpose in designing you — regardless of who you view the designer as being — then, from my perspective, you can’t be fallen from that design. If you can’t be fallen from that design, there’s no point to evangelism.

vaccine1Harriet Hall explains why the $150,000 Vaccine Challenge is absurd

HIV Denialist Christine Maggiore is dead – I never heard of her but Orac explains her story here.

How to profit from the coming Rapture – This is a satirical how-to book by Steve and Evie Levy.

atheists-support-gaysHow atheists can be good allies

8 albums about atheism you never heard of

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.14.08

December 15, 2008


i_dont_want_youApparently marriage is defined as a union between a religious man a woman – Yeah, that’s right. In SIN City, along with the rest of Nevada and in other states, you must belong to a congregation to get married. Oddly, self-proclaimed Humanists can get away with saying they’re part of The Humanist Society, which has tax status as a religious group. But many atheists like myself don’t consider that a viable option. And this isn’t just some old law on the books that nobody even knows about let alone enforces.

Michael Jacobson, a 64-year-old retiree who calls himself a lifelong atheist, tried this year to get a license to perform weddings. Clark County [Nevada] rejected his application because he had no ties to a congregation, as state law requires.

So Jacobson and attorneys from two national secular groups — the American Humanist Assn. and the Center for Inquiry — are trying to change things. If they can’t persuade the state Legislature to rework the law, they plan to sue.

. . .

“… I’m not going to do it by saying I belong to a religious organization,” he said. “That’s a sham, because atheists are not religious.”

The awesome Massimo Pugliucci rips tears the L.A. Times a new one for their recent opinion piece on the rise of superstition – I’d briefly touched on this story here. Massimo, who I had the fortune of meeting at a recent lecture, goes off on this poorly reasoned story that criticizes materialism (creationists’ favorite boogyman) and points out something I didn’t even notice when I’d originally skimmed the article:  according to the byline at the bottom of the page, the author, David Klinghoffer,  is:

. . .a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and the author of “The Lord Will Gather Me In: My Journey to Jewish Orthodoxy” and “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History.”

Ugh! That explains SO MUCH.

monkey-thinkingScientists ‘baffled’ again – CNN uses the old cliche to sensationalize science news again. They said:

“Scientists are baffled by mysterious acorn shortage.”

monkey-frustratedBut according to Steve Novella:

In turns out that scientists are not baffled at all. Acorn crops run in cycles. Last year there was a bumper crop – much larger than normal. Bumper crops tend to be followed by lean crops as the trees now need to conserve resources. This cycle may have been exagerated by a wet spring, which also tends to decrease acorn production.

Mystery solved.


scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyWarm Plasma Cloak Surrounds Earth – “A detailed analysis of the measurements of five different satellites has revealed the existence of the warm plasma cloak, a new region of the magnetosphere, which is the invisible shield of magnetic fields and electrically charged particles that surround and protect Earth from the onslaught of the solar wind.”

Neuroscience–the next battleground for creationism

December 13, 2008

Ever since I first attended a lecture by Neorologist and skeptic Steve Novella and discovered his podcasrs and blogs, I’ve become a huge fan of his. So I’ve been following the continuing on-again-off-again blogging debate between him and Michael Egnor of the infamous creationist think tank the Discovery Institute with great interest.

So as the creationists begin to shift their arguments more towards attacking materialism in favor of inexplicable dualism it’s to be expected that neuroscience denial will play an important role in their arguments. And that’s where Egnor comes in.

A while back Egnor had taken aim at Novella, specifically challenging him to an online debate. Steve Novella happily accepted and so it began. Egnor made the first move. And Novella has in addition to giving his own opening statement, rebutted Egnor. They’ve gone back and forth a couple of times with Novella responding fairly quickly on his NeuroLogica blog while Egnor would disappearfrom the debate for huge periods of time only to casually resurface a month or so later either by saying the same things he said before or making new claims. But so far Egnor hasn’t made any real honest attempts to challenge any of Novella’s points, instead opting for straw men, ad hominems, and a host of other logical fallacies. And in Steve Novella’s latest blog he once again calls Egnor on his bullshit. I look forward to Egnors respon–err, I mean inevitable reiteration of what has already been refuted.

Discovery Institute asking for an apology

November 23, 2008

Discovery Institute asking for an apology – I’d previously posted about the 2 women who got a personal tour of The Discovery Institute by pretending to be cdesign proponentsists. Well, in the interests of “civility”, Casey Luskin of the DI says he would be willing to meet with them again for a real discussion. . .provided they apologize and sell out their principles. He thinks this is a fair deal.

News From Around The Blogosphere 11.14.08

November 15, 2008

Even Better Than The Real Thing – Placebo acupuncture (if ever there were a more redundant phrase) more effective at getting you knocked up than real acupuncture:

A study comparing the effects of real and placebo acupuncture on pregnancy rates during assisted reproduction has found that, surprisingly, placebo acupuncture was associated with a significantly higher overall pregnancy rate than real acupuncture.

GM food hysteria is back in the news – A recent study found that a long-term diet of genetically modified corn decreases fertility in lab mice. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything for humans and therefore further research will have to be done. But of course the usual GM-phobic suspects are trying to tout this study as proof that their delusional rants have been justified for all these years. Um, no. You see pretty everything we eat in the 21st Century is genetically modified and without which millions of people around the world would starve.

Obama endorsing chiropractic? – Please just be paying lip service. I really don’t want my tax dollars to be squandered on this crap.

Damned for voting Obama?

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman, a South Carolina Roman Catholic priest, has warned his parishioners that they will be committing a deadly sin if they voted for Barack Obama and accept Holy Communion before doing penance. His rationale? That supporting the pro-choice Obama “constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil”. He goes on to describe Obama as “the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate”.

Um, can’t we take away this lunatic’s tax exempt status for preaching from the pulpit?

creationism-cartoon-i-will-not-teach-horse-shitAlternate title suggestion: “The Road To Ignorance Contest”or Shameless Discovery Institute Attempt to Exploit Child Labor & Promote Religious Ideas Deemed Unworthy by the Scientific Peer Review Process.



77-million-year-old Dinosaur ‘Whodunit’ Solved – “It has all the hallmarks of a Cretaceous melodrama. A dinosaur sits on her nest of a dozen eggs on a sandy river beach. Water levels rise, and the mother is faced with a dilemma: Stay or abandon her unhatched offspring to the flood and scramble to safety?

Seventy-seven million years later, scientific detective work conducted by University of Calgary and Royal Tyrrell Museum researchers used this unique fossil nest and eggs to learn more about how nest building, brooding and eggs evolved. But there is a big unresolved question: Who was the egg-layer?” Keep in mind that this would have been 76,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists. But who’s counting?

Prehistoric Pelvis: Clues To Human Development – “Discovery of the most intact female pelvis of Homo erectus may cause scientists to reevaluate how early humans evolved to successfully birth larger-brained babies.”

Ultimate Recycling: Turning Urine Into Water – “Two hundred and fifty miles above the Earth puts you a long way from the nearest kitchen tap. And at $15,000 a pint, the cost of shipping fresh water aboard the space shuttle is, well, astronomical.

So astronauts on the International Space Station have to recapture every possible drop. That includes water evaporated from showers, shaving, tooth brushing and hand washing, plus perspiration and water vapor that collects within the astronauts’ space suits. They even transfer water from the fuel cells that provide electric power to the space shuttle.

Until now, however, NASA has not attempted to tap one major potential source of water: urine. That will soon change with the deployment of the new Water Recovery System. It departs Friday, Nov. 14, from the Kennedy Space Center on the Space Shuttle Endeavor.”

Mineral Kingdom Has Co-evolved With Life – “Evolution isn’t just for living organisms. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution have found that the mineral kingdom co-evolved with life, and that up to two thirds of the more than 4,000 known types of minerals on Earth can be directly or indirectly linked to biological activity.”

Fish Choose Their Leaders By Consensus – “Just after Americans have headed to the polls to elect their next president, a new report in the November 13th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveals how one species of fish picks its leaders: Most of the time they reach a consensus to go for the more attractive of two candidates.” Wow, so it’s just like our democracy then.

Marine Plankton Found In Amber – “Marine microorganisms have been found in amber dating from the middle of the Cretaceous period. The fossils were collected in Charente, in France. This completely unexpected discovery will deepen our understanding of these lost marine species as well as providing precious data about the coastal environment of Western France during the Cretaceous.”

Light Triggers New Code For Brain Cells – “Brain cells can adopt a new chemical code in response to cues from the outside world, scientists working with tadpoles at the University of California, San Diego report in the journal Nature.

. . . Dark tadpoles don pale camouflage when exposed to bright light. The researchers have now identified cells in the tadpole brain that respond to illumination by making dopamine, a chemical message, or neurotransmitter, recognized by the system that controls pigmentation.”

A glimpse at some possible future atheist ads – Admittedly, I’m not a fan of most of them. The only one I like from the bunch is this one:

But I still love last year’s billboards much, much more:


None of these weak phrases like “There is probably no God.” These are much stronger and less likely to viewed as offensive or be written off as atheists just looking for friends because they’re desperate and lonely.