News From Around The Blogosphere 10.15.08

October 16, 2008

The battle isn’t over in Texas – The Texas Board of Education has named the 6 people who will be on a committee to review science curriculum standards. And 3 of them are creationists:

  • Stephen Meyer, vice-frakkin’-president of the odious Discovery Institute in Washington state;
  • Ralph Seelke, a pro-ID creationist and biologist from Wisconsin;
  • Charles Garner, a chemist from Baylor who is also a pro-ID creationist.

The first 2, Meyer and Seelke, wrote the new ID textbook, Explore Evolution.

So, three good guys and three ignorant ideologues, with the overall head of the board of education being Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist. It’s going to get ugly.

You hate me! You really hate me! – University of Minnesota Professor Randy Moore has won an award from the Discovery Institute: “The Award for Most Dogmatic Indoctrinator in an Evolutionary Biology Course.” Though obviously an ironic award from Evolution deniers, I’d say it’s quite an honor. So congratulations for pissing off the creationists!

Suit against God tossed out over lack of address – 2 months ago I blogged about Ernie Chambers, the senator who sued God. Well now the case has been thrown out because the God had no known address and could not be reached. But I thought God was “everywhere?” Anyway, this isn’t over. God won’t escape the law forever. I will not rest until God’s protection racket is shut down and he is behind bars. (Thanks Michelle)

Denis Leary in need of serious rescuing – I’ve always liked Denis Leary. I’d even call myself a Denis Leary fan. But now he’s really stepped in it. Mirroring the moronic comments of Michael Savage several months ago regarding autism, comments in Leary’s latest book has exposed him to be an autism denier. In a chapter titled “Autism Schmautism,” Leary writes:

“There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can’t compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks…to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons.

“I don’t give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you—yer kid is NOT autistic. He’s just stupid. Or lazy. Or both.”

Now compare this to Savage’s controversial statements from months ago where Savage characterized nearly every child with autism as:

“. . .a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out.”

“It is an overdiagnosed medical condition. In my readings, there is no definitive medical diagnosis for autism.”

On the July 16 installment of his program, which is broadcast every weekday, Mr. Savage suggested that “99 percent of the cases” of autism were a result of lax parenting. He told his audience: “They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron.You’ll get nowhere in life.’ ”

“ ‘Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’ ”

And now Leary’s excuse for backing away from the comments are also mirroring Savage’s, that he only meant some parents are exploiting the diagnosis and not all:

Leary suggests that those critics obviously haven’t read the book.

“Or if they have,” the Emmy-nominated actor said in a statement, “they missed the sections I thought made my feelings about autism very clear: that I not only support the current rational approaches to the diagnoses and treatment of real autism but have witnessed it firsthand while watching very dear old friends raise a functioning autistic child.”

Autism Society of America:

“For Mr. Leary to suggest that families or doctors conspire to falsely diagnose autism is ridiculous. Mr. Leary’s remarks reflect the same misconceptions of autism being caused by bad or unemotional parenting that were held over 50 years ago, misconceptions that have been completely disproven by the scientific community.”

Leary is still insisting that he’s not denying that autism exists and that the whole thing is being taken out of context. His solution to the alleged misconception: read his book. Of course I’ll reserve judgment until the matter is further explored but right now I think Leary was right about 1 thing: he is an asshole (Thanks Brain).

Interview with an Islamic fundamentalist:

It’s not just acupuncture, it’s laser acupuncture – Ugh! The stupid! It burns! Even more reason to avoid reading

Alcohol shrinks the brain

Human testicles yield stem cells: “Scientists have derived potentially therapeutic stem cells from adult, human testicles—a development that may eventually make new medical treatments possible while avoiding moral dilemmas.”

Is College Worth It?

And they have the nerve you charge you a buck?! – A new study finds that bottled water is full of contaminants too. I’ve sung the praising of the U.S.’s water supply before. For all the problems in our country, you’d still be hard pressed to find cleaner tap water anywhere else in the world. And the fact is that besides the convenience factor, the prettier packaging, and the weight loss on your wallet, commercially sold bottled waters aren’t really any healthier than was you can get from your tap. Plus, they don’t even contain fluoride in them, which contrary to the conspiracy nuts out there, is actually beneficial.

Religulous creeping up on Expelled’s box office gross:

Bill Maher’s Religulous has made $7,049,342 in 13 days.

Ben Stein’s Expelled made $7,598,071 in 39 days.

Religulous is still in theaters. Expelled is not.

Double standard within the atheist community – Several weeks ago, I blogged about the vandalism of the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics’ flag. Sadly, many of my fellow atheists want to write this off as no big deal and just move on. I think that’s truly sad. Here’s a video of the making of the replacement flag:


Evolution From Fish To Land Animals Revealed – “New research has provided the first detailed look at the internal head skeleton of Tiktaalik roseae, the 375-million-year-old fossil animal that represents an important intermediate step in the evolutionary transition from fish to animals that walked on land.”

People With Autism Make More Rational Decisions – “People with autism-related disorders are less likely to make irrational decisions, and are less influenced by gut instincts, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust. The study adds to the growing body of research implicating altered emotional processing in autism.”

Oldest Fossil Impression Of Flying Insect – “While paleontologists may scour remote, exotic places in search of prehistoric specimens, Tufts researchers have found what they believe to be the world’s oldest whole-body fossil impression of a flying insect in a wooded field behind a strip mall in North Attleboro, Mass.”

Another Route Out Of Africa For Early Humans – “The widely held belief that the Nile valley was the most likely route out of sub-Saharan Africa for early modern humans 120,000 year ago is challenged in a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 8.5.08

August 6, 2008

The greatest skeptical TV show ever is becoming another feature-length film -Before I knew what skepticism even was, as a kid, these guys inspired me to investigate the paranormal more than any other. In my opinion, they’re the best television role models for kids in the media. Suck it Scully!

More sad news in the skeptical world -Skeptic Robert Lancaster was hospitalized after suffering from a stroke that has left him partially paralyzed. Lancaster is perhaps best known for being arguably “psychic” Sylvia Browne’s arch enemy (other than Randi) and for his website exposing her fraud, Stop Sylvia Browne. And recently, he met Browne face to face, a hilarious account chronicled here. Here’s the thread on the JREF forum where his wife Susan has posted the news. My best wishes go out to Robert. Get well soon.

For the record, yes, there are still people who believe the Earth is flat -This is how far off the deep end belief in grand conspiracy theories can take you…or rather how far off the edge of the Earth it can take you. Flat-Earthers after all, are only challenging “the conspiracy” that the Earth is round. A quote from 25-year-old flat-Earther John Davis: “Many use the term ‘flat-earther’ as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism.” Hmm, can’t imagine why. Davis believes “the Earth is flat and horizontally infinite – it stretches horizontally forever”. Of course! It all makes sense now! Take that, Magellan!

Here’s another hilarious conspiracy theorist. For the record, Chemtrail people, this is what you look like to the rest of us.

Acupuncture for veterans -Acupucture now being marketed for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans. Is there anything it can’t do? Oh yeah! treat PTSD, treat medical conditions, treat addictions, act as a pain reliever, and do anything other than shrink the size of your wallet.

Knights Templar sue Pope-“They claim that when the order was dissolved by his predecessor Pope Clement V in 1307, more than 9,000 properties as well as countless pastures, mills and other commercial ventures belonging to the knights were appropriated by the church.”

More Pareidolia with Jesus– Some of my favorites:

Is that Jesus or a Cheeto?

This one I think looks the best:

I’ve been ripping into this cdesign proponentsist several times over the past few days but here’s PZ Myers is going to be go up against Ray “The Banana Guy” Comfort. Ray appeared on a radio show today to make his case. PZ’s going on the same show tomorrow to give a rebuttal. But here’s PZ’s blog commentary on Ray’s performance on the show.

John Freshwater, the Ohio science teacher who uses his classroom to proselytize and promote creationism, is following a familiar tactic: Lie.

Even sterile water injections work better than acupuncture -More on the power of placebos.

New “Vaccinate Your Baby” campaign angers Jenny McCarthy and other anti-vacciners – New “Vaccine Your Baby” campaign being promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Every Child By Two, Amanda Peet, and others has unleashed the wrath of the “Green Vaccine” Movement including Jenny McCarthy. But if as they claim, they’re not anti-vaccine, what seems to be the problem? Update: Here’s another blog on this that includes a link to a clip of Amanda Peet being interviewed on Good Morning America about this.

Suzanne Somers’ latest foray into quackery – Apparently, she’s now into something called”bioidentical” hormones, which are ascribed with mystical properties, none of which they actually have.

State Senator Ernie Chambers resumes lawsuit against God -I thought Pete Stark was the only openly atheist member of our government, though Lori Lipman Brown says that she knows of at least 20 other alleged atheists in our government who admitted to being non-believers but asked her not to disclose their identities out of fear of it damaging their career in politics. So I’m glad to hear about Ernie Chambers. I hope that when God doesn’t show for court that he’s held in contempt.

Ashley Paramore holds up a banner for the Omnipresent Atheists group in Columbus, Ohio:

Paris Hilton gets the last laugh – As much as I detest Paris Hilton, I have to admit that whoever wrote her lines for this satiric response to McCain’s attack ad did an awesome job. It actually made me forget how much I despise Hilton for 2 whole minutes.

And now a moment of science:

Breakthrough In Quantum Mechanics -“Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have recently reached what they are calling a milestone in experimental quantum mechanics.”

Schizophrenia: Price Of Human Brain Evolution? -“Metabolic changes responsible for the evolution of our unique cognitive abilities indicate that the brain may have been pushed to the limit of its capabilities. Research published today in BioMed Central’s open access journal Genome Biology adds weight to the theory that schizophrenia is a costly by-product of human brain evolution.”