News From Around The Blogosphere 12.29.08

December 30, 2008

Andrew Brown spouting trash about “New Atheists”

“So, who are they? The ideas I claim are distinctive of the new atheists have been collected from Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Jerry Coyne, the American physicist Robert L. Park, and a couple of blogging biologists, P Z Myers and Larry Moran. They have two things in common. They are none of them philosophers and, though most are scientists, none study psychology, history, the sociology of religion, or any other discipline which might cast light on the objects of their execration.”

Yeah, funny how you forgot to mention Philosopher Daniel Dennett, whose existence¬† single-handedly defeats your argument. Also, while not a psychologist, I believe Sam Harris is getting his Doctorate in Neuroscience, so I think it’s fair to say he knows a bit about the brain. Likewise, Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers are evolutionary biologists, so I fail to see the problem here. Oh that’s right, only people who agree with you have satisfactory credentials.

darwinstatueMadeleine Bunting can’t wait to celebrate Darwin’s big bicentennial, just as long as the atheists stay away – Here’s what she said followed by PZ Myers’ comment:

“The fear is that the anniversary will be hijacked by the New Atheism as the perfect battleground for another round of jousting over the absurdity of belief (a position that Darwin pointedly never took up). Many of the prominent voices in the New Atheism are lined up to reassert that it is simply impossible to believe in God and accept Darwin’s theory of evolution; Richard Dawkins and the US philosopher Daniel Dennett are among those due to appear in Darwin200 events. It’s a position that infuriates many scientists, not to mention philosophers and theologians.”

Well? Should Dawkins and Dennett stay home this year? Should only professing Christians who are scientists be allowed to speak in praise of Darwin in public? She seems upset that atheists will actually be given a voice in the Darwin bicentennial!

thestupiditburnsCreationists and HIV Deniers use the same tactics – This is not remotely surprising as all deniers/grand conspiracy theorists apply the same basic tactics to keep rejecting inconvenient evidence and create the illusion of a cover-up. Here it’s the HIV Deniers are trying to do the same thing that Andy Schlafly of Conservapedia did when challenging Richard Lenski’s e coli research. In this case 40 HIV Deniers are demanding that a 24-year-old paper get a retraction. One of those 40 is infamous anti-vaccinationist and friend to Jenny McCarthy, Gary Null.

The fallacy of “balance” and “fairness” about unscientific claims in the media – This is of particular interest to me as it concerns my field, media.

Was Jesus Real? Ask the Jesus Project scholars – I know there’s been a Jesus Project in the past to determine if Jesus really lived but this one is run by the Center of Inquiry comprised of 20 scholars of various disciplines.

God and Politics – The Secular Coalition for America put together a video showing how marginalized the atheist viewpoint has been in the U.S. this year. Check it out by clicking the link above.

Michael Newdow leading other atheists in suing over inauguration – This has nothing to do with Rick Warren but rather the use of the phrase, “so help me God” and the government sponsored use of any clergy. Sure, we’ll probably lose this one but it’s a symbolic lawsuit if nothing else.


Wanna bet?

Wanna bet?

Virginity Pledges don’t work – This comes as a surprise to no one who isn’t a devout member of the Religious Right. Ironically, in the video that can be found in the link above, the anchor remarks that this is the opposite of what you’d expect. Really?

Benjamin Radford, Managing Editor of Skeptical Inquirer Magazine explains why police often bungle missing child cases – Okay, the article is more about cases of police incompetence but I do love this quote, which truly is an EPIC fail:

Dozens of self-professed “psychic detectives” offered tips, ideas and information to police about where the missing girl was. Unfortunately, as with previous missing persons cases, all the psychics failed: not a single one gave information that led police to recover Caylee Anthony’s body. Despite claims to the contrary, the number of missing persons recovered by psychic detectives remains exactly zero.


Nanotechnology May Be Used For Food Safety – “A microscopic biological sensor that detects Salmonella bacteria in lab tests has been developed by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist and university colleagues. The sensor could be adapted to detect other foodborne pathogens as well.”