News From Around The Blogosphere 2.23.11

February 24, 2011

1. Creationists defeated in Oklahoma – Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern tried to pass a bill that would bar teachers from grading students down on science tests because of that student’s particular belief. This was the latest attempt by creationists to force their way into science classrooms. Fortunately, it didn’t work and the bill was defeated. Sadly though, it was only defeated by a 7-9 vote.

2. Watson moving to Columbia Medical Center – The computer that brutally defeated Jeopardy‘s two greatest champs is being taken to the Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan where it will be used to help doctors evaluate patients.

“Watson has the potential to help doctors reduce the time needed to evaluate and determine the correct diagnosis for a patient,” said Dr. Herbert Chase, professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in a public statement.

Chase also said that the super genius would lend doctors a hand when it comes to developing more “personalized treatment options” for patients’ needs through use of the Watson software.

3. Bible Fail – When a gay man was attacked, a news crew interviewed one of the attackers’ friends, a wrestler who proudly brandished a tattoo featuring the entire Leviticus 18:22 verse in the Bible, which infamously condemns homosexuality as an abomination. Sadly, this wrestler didn’t keep reading as in the very next chapter, Leviticus 19:28, the Bible condemns tattoos.

4. There’s no such thing as a lie detector

A new report in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, discusses some of the common misconceptions about those proficient in the art of deception, reviews the shortcomings of commonly used lie-detection techniques, and presents new empirically supported methods for telling liars from truth-tellers with greater accuracy.

Lie detectors routinely make the common mistakes of overemphasizing nonverbal cues, neglecting intrapersonal variations (i.e., how a person acts when they are telling the truth versus when they are lying), and being overly confident in their lie-detection skills

News From Around The Blogosphere 4.21.10

April 22, 2010

1. Russia bans $cientology material – Perhaps taking a cue from the Germans, Russia is cracking down on beliefs it considers detrimental to society and have now banned books and recordings by L. Ron Hubbard a court determined to be extremist. Russia has already banned some texts by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

2. 60 Minutes applies hardcore skepticism to bring down bogus stem cell quack – Lawrence Stowe is a con man with no real medical credentials who has scammed ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease patients out of money with promises of bogus stem cell cures. I am very proud of 60 Minutes for setting up and airing this sting operation in all its uncomfortable glory.What’s really shameful is that every news organization isn’t doing this sort of thing all the time.

3. Oklahoma proposes new insane abortion bill – The bill would allow doctors to withhold test results showing fetal defects and require women to answer intrusive questions.

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.5.09

December 5, 2009

1. Waiting For Godot – Another case of religion leading to child abuse:

Over three months in 2006, as her five children grew more emaciated and listless by the day, Estelle Walker made no move to find a job, no effort to scrounge up a meal, her kids told a jury yesterday.

“We were supposed to wait for God to provide,” said Walker’s oldest daughter, now 21. “And that’s what we did.”

At one point, the daughter said, she and her siblings went 11 days without food. When police were at last summoned to the Sussex County cabin by neighbors, investigators found the children so malnourished they had difficulty talking.

Remember kids, if food’s not here in 40 days and 40 nights…just wait longer.

2. YouTuber potholer54 debunks ‘ClimateGate’ –

3. Hospital workers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia fired for not vaccinating? – Of course the anti-vaccinationists will use this to push as some sort of proof of forced vaccination as they’ve done before. But hospital workers are under different standards than the public. It’s about patient safety. Patients don’t go to hospitals when they’re healthy; they go when they’re ill. So they depend on healthy, vaccinated hospital staff to not be carriers of disease. It’s not rocket science. Hospitals often require proof of lots of vaccinations before a new employ even starts the job.

Universities too. I think I had to get an MMR before going to NYU. They might have also required another vaccine. And the school I’m about to attend for a paralegal certificate program required me to submit records that I’d gotten my MMR. And because I have already been vaccinated, I just needed to get the NYU health center to send them over. And of course those with compromised immune systems can get exemptions from all these instututions.

So why did these hospital employees refuse their vaccines? What else? Jesus:

“I am a Christian, and my religion prohibits me from receiving vaccines,” said Tyrika Cowlay, who was a lab technician.

Really Tyrika? Show me where it says this in the Bible. Cause you and I both know it says no such thing. So grow the fuck up, you pansy. You don’t want to get vaccinated? Get a job at the Sizzler and stay away from the already sick, you lunatic. As Phil Plait says, that’s like an orthodox Jew taking a job at a pork rendering factory. But I prefer to say, it’s like an Amish person taking a job at Microsoft.

4. Tulsa and Baltimore get atheist billboards – They both have the same slogan:

Jesus expelled from Italian schools and sent to Oklahoma prison

November 4, 2009

1. The European Court of Human Rights has stirred controversy by banning crucifixes from public schools in Italy, which is obviously a very Catholic nation. Now in the U.S. there’s obviously Constitutional precedent for such a ruling but I’m not personally acquainted with European nations’ takes on church and state separation.

Displaying crucifixes also violated childrens’ right to freedom of religion, the court said.

The Italian bishops’ conference denounced the court as “partial and ideological,” saying the crucifix “is not just a religious symbol but also a sign of cultural belonging.”

Riiight. It’s like Chief Justice Antonin Scalia said last month; there’s nothing religious or, say, Christian about a crucifix. Nah. That’s why you see them all over the place in Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu cemetaries, right?

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Italian television that the ruling had been met “with astonishment and regret” by the Catholic Church.

“The crucifix has always been a sign of God’s love, unity and hospitality to all humanity. It is unpleasant that it is considered a sign of division, exclusion or a restriction of freedom,” he said.

Hold on there, Rico. Didn’t you just hear what the Italian bishops said. It’s not a sign of God’s love; it’s “cultural.” If it were religious, then it would violate childrens’ right to freedom of religion. So what’s it gonna be? Symbol of “God” or two sticks nailed together?

2. A new privately-run prison going up in Wakita, Oklahoma will only hire Christian staffers – And while I find this appalling, it’s privately run, so I’d ordinarily be inclined to say they can do whatever they want. They can choose to hire only big-breasted women for all I care, especially since prisoners are given a choice to go there or not:

“The staff, being all born-again believers, will see this as a mission,” [founder of Corrections Concepts Inc. Bill Robinson] says. That, he says, is “about changing criminals into citizens.”

The prison would accept only inmates near the end of their sentences who volunteer to attend and sign an agreement to participate, the paper says.

“They don’t have to go to church, or Bible study, but they have to participate in the curriculum, which is Christ-centered,” Robinson says.

But if this prison is receiving even a dime of tax-payer money to fund it, then I feel they should have no right to discrimate against any group in their hiring process.

Tulsa Mayoral Candidate Anna Falling pushes creationism

August 13, 2009

Tulsa, Oklahoma Mayoral Candidate Anna Falling is today’s religious moron of the week. Falling is reigniting a controversy over a proposal to insert a creationist exhibit in the Tulsa Zoo. The exhibit would feature the Christian story of creation. Of course it will.

The proposal failed for years ago and now Falling’s bringing it back by making it the centerpiece in her campaign, allegedly to honor Jesus. Guess which political party Falling represents? I know you can.

You’d think a city mayor would have more important priorities in this recession than trying to turn a public zoo into a church like, I don’t know, creating jobs, improving schools, keeping the crime rate down, etc. But let’s hear what Falling has to say about this:

“Some may ask why this issue during a Mayoral campaign?  And I say why not?” said candidate Anna Falling.

Why not? WHY FREAKIN’ NOT? Well, I don’t know, Anna. Maybe because as a public servant whose supposed to represent everyone in your city and whose salary would be paid for by that diverse public, choosing to favor one religion might send the wrong idea that Christians get preferential treatment.

“Today we are announcing that God will be glorified in this city.  He shall not be shunned. Upon our election, we hereby commit to honoring Him in all ways that He has been dishonored,” said Anna Falling.

Falling says God was dishonored four years ago, when the Tulsa Parks Board rejected an exhibit which borrows heavily from the first book of the Bible.

What, there are no churches in your city? How exactly was your god dishonored? Did the Tulsa Parks Board smack you god in the face with a glove and challenge him to a dual in whihc he then suffered an embarrassing loss? Really Anna, is your god so small and pety that it’s really that easy to dishonor him? You know, there are no displays in public toilets either. Maybe that’s dishonoring your god too.

Okay, enough snark. This is such a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution that it isn’t even funny.That idiots like this are even allowed to graduate high school is an embarrassment to this country, let alone that she’s been allowed to get this far in politics.

Fortunately though, her party’s primary has about 11 candidates while the State Senator Tom Adelson from the opposing party has some bi-partisan support.

But of Anna Falling, all I can say is, ugh!

(See, I was able to make it through the whole article without a single cheesy pun with her name!)

Oklahoma state officials are idiots

June 30, 2009

An Oklahoma State Representative is blaming the financial crisis on those who don’t accept her religious values. Take a guess which political party she belongs to. I know you can. And who is this idiotic state representative? Why it’s none other than Sally Kern, the same Sally Kern that famously called gays a bigger threat to America than terrorists.

Apparently, Kern doesn’t understand little things like the law of cause and effect. When the financial system collapses, it’s not the fault of those who operate that system. No,that would be too simple. It’s really Obama’s fault for not being religious enough and the fault of the gays as well as everyone that doesn’t fit her personal vision of morality. If history is any indication, I’m sure we’ll be learning about her extra-marital affair soon enough.

This kind of scapegoating is just plain disgusting. But perhaps the ACLU said it best:

“I think it’s very unfortunate, frankly, I haven’t seen scapegoating like this since pre-World War II Germany”, said C.S. Thornton, the Deputy Director of the ACLU Chapter of Oklahoma. “She blames all these things upon a great moral crisis that has in fact caused our national economic downtown, but nowhere in this parade of horribles does mention greedy Wall Street executives or government regulators who were asleep at the switch.”

My advice for Ms. Kern is that if she’s that certain this is all the fault of the godless heathens, then maybe should she get right on putting together a bill to raise funds for a massive animal sacrificing initiative. Well, maybe we can even sacrifice virginal women to the volcano gods too.

But of course she’s not the only idiotic public official from Oklahoma. Senator James Inhofe is claiming to have exposed what he calls “probably the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”. What is that hoax he’s speaking of? Why it’s Global Warming. Yup. Guess which political party this anti-scientific crank belongs to. I know you can.

He says the Environmental Protection Agency has been “cooking the science” on global warming since 1998, and that they purposefully falsified a report to eliminate research showing carbon dioxide has no harmful effect on the environment. Their motive? To further the Obama administration’s climate change initiatives. See, according to global warming conspiracy theorists, evil socialist fascists in the government want to declare your guns a federally protected wetland so that they might steal them from you and throw you into an internment camp. Or at least, I think that’s what they believe.

Seriously, what is wrong with these Oklahoma state officials? Is there something in the water?

Ten Commandments commanded off Oklahoma property

June 9, 2009

The US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Oklahoma just ruled that display of ten commandments monuments violates the establishment clause. I don’t really have anything to say about this except, YAY!!!

Oklahoma says it should be illegal to not honor your father & mother

May 9, 2009

shredding-constitutionOkay, the Oklahoma government is probably far too stupid to understand the obvious implications of legally promoting The Ten Commandments because the Oklahoma House has just voted overwhelmingly to place a monument of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the State Capitol, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Without debate, House members voted 83-2 for the bill on the National Day of Prayer in which televangelist and Oklahoma native Oral Roberts addressed the state Senate. A public prayer service was conducted a short distance from the state Supreme Court chamber, and religious-themed displays and kiosks were set up in the Capitol rotunda.

“It wasn’t planned,” said Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, author of the Ten Commandments bill. “I think it’s divine, really.”

Well that’s funny, Mr. Ritze, because one would have thought that if it were divine, you wouldn’t have had to do anything at all. What does God need with a state-approved bill? If as you believe, he created the whole freakin’ universe, you’d think he could ensure that Oklahoma obeyed his wishes without the need for a lesser authority to approve it.

Oklahoma decided it wasn’t unconstitutional at all for the same reasons as Texas. And I absolutely LOVE Texas’ excuse:

The Texas monument was the focus of a landmark 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that found it did not violate the First Amendment’s prohibition against establishing a state religion. The court said the key to whether a display is constitutional hinges on whether there is a religious purpose behind it.

No, there’s no religious purpose involved. I’m sure next week they’ll be discussing a bill to get the Code of Thundera, the Rules of Fight Club, and the Pillars of Islam displayed outside of the court houses. Can’t wait to see that.

Oh, and did I mention it’s going to cost $10,000, which is AWESOME because the economy is doing so well and there’s absolutely nothing better that money could be spent on.

I wonder if the Oklahoma criminals in Oklahoma will now receive the proper Biblical punishments as well, such as being stoned to death for working on the Sabbath.

Yay Stone Age Barbarism!!! WOO!!!

Oklahoma government investigating Richard Dawkins

March 23, 2009

I’ve reported before that Oklahoma State Representative Rebecca Hamilton had been trying to stop Richard Dawkins from giving a talk at University of Oklahoma. Well not only has this been confirmed but it seems he was actually under investigation:

Sure enough, I just received confirmation today in a letter from the Open Records Office at the University of Oklahoma. The letter confirms that on the day of Dawkins’ speech, Oklahoma State Representative Rebecca Hamilton requested substantial information relating to the speech from Vice President for Governmental Relations Danny Hilliard. Representative Hamilton’s exhaustive request included demands for all e-mails and correspondence relating to the speech; a list of all money paid to Dawkins and the entities, public or private, responsible for this funding; and the total cost to the university, including, among other things, security fees, advertising, and even “faculty time spent promoting this event.”

Rick Farmer, the director of committee staff for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, also wrote the University on March 12, requesting confirmation that Dawkins had indeed waived all compensation for the speech.

Apparently, being an atheist and one of the most respected scientists in the world makes you a danger to national security.

Now some of you–though I hope not too many–may wonder: “What’s wrong with the legislature investigating a speech by a famous evolutionary biologist at a public university?” Well, a lot of things, actually. As I wrote in my post on Dawkins’ website:

If this investigation is indeed taking place, what the state legislature needs to understand is that in court cases dating back to the days of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, even investigating clearly protected speech on the basis of its viewpoint violates the First Amendment.

Think about it: If every time a student or faculty member invited, say, Rick Warren to speak on campus, they knew they would be subjected to a thorough and time-consuming investigation by state officials, you can all but guarantee that schools across the country would think twice before inviting Rick Warren. This would be a great way for state legislatures to chill speech they dislike without ever having to find the speaker guilty of a single thing. Talk about your un-American activities.

Given the fact the legislature clearly is concerned with nothing other than Dawkins’ viewpoint, such an investigation is improper and should end immediately.

Dawkins reacts to Oklahoma legislature trying to outlaw him

March 7, 2009