Rebecca Watson has compiled her top ten list for biggest perpetuators of bullshit this year. It’s a pretty great list, made even better because it plugs one of my other websites, Stop Jenny McCarthy. Thanks Rebecca.
Witchcraft on India’s school curriculum – It’s part of an effort to dispel superstition and stop deadly witch hunts.
A great blog article by Phil Plait on The Long Tail of Skepticism – It includes another plug for Stop Jenny McCarthy, so I’m happy. I’ve blogged in the past about how skeptics need to start focusing on strengthening the the “Long Tail” and I’m planning on writing a potentially very long essay on the direction I think the skeptics movement should be heading, which expands upon the popular essay by Daniel Loxton “Where Do We Go From Here,” the blog by Tim Farley of “What’s The Harm” that Phil Plait links to “The Long Tail of Skepticism,” and the Skepticamp essay recited on the most recent Skepticality podcast (episode #90). All of these are must-reads for those interested in getting involved in skeptical activism.
Boy did this psychic go to the wrong site – This is hilarious. It’s remarkable to me that “Sean” didn’t see this one coming. . .you know, with all the psychic powers and all.
No atheist ads in Australia – And probably won’t even be in the film, “Australia.” It’s particularly sad because all 3 slogan options were better than the recent ones used in London and Washington:
- Atheism: Because there is no credible evidence
- Celebrate reason: Sleep in on Sunday mornings
- Atheism: Celebrate reason
If they didn’t even go for the last one, then I guess we can forget my slogan idea: “God Is Imaginary. Get Over It.”
A circuit court judge has ruled that Florida’s ban on gay adoption is unconstitutional – Reason wins out. But there’s still Utah, where no unmarried couples are allowed to adopt, be they gay or straight, and Mississippi, which bans gay couples from adopting, but not single gay people.
AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:
‘Missing Link’ Galaxies Discovered – “Astronomers in two UK-led international collaborations have separately uncovered a type of galaxy that represents a missing link in our understanding of galaxy evolution.”
Flies May Reveal Evolution Of Live Birth – “A species of fruit fly from the Seychelles Islands often lays larvae instead of eggs, UC San Diego biologists have discovered. Clues to how animals switch from laying eggs to live birth may be found in the well-studied species’ ecology and genes.”
F.U.T.K. – Okay, so this time Toby Keith is being deliberately funny with this “War on Christmas” song from A Colbert Christmas (and it is very funny), but is there any doubt that Toby Keith take the message of the song seriously?
And of course here’s a little piece of unintentional comic gold. Proof that religion rots your brain:
Well it’s safe to say that last night has been a colossal victory for those wishing to restore reason and sanity to Washington. I know I’ll be celebrating this historic occasion for the next few days. New Yorkers certainly seem to have an extra spring in their step as they walk down the street. How appropriate that such a major change in direction both in the White House and in the Congress should arrive in time for the 5th of November. But that being said, we didn’t get everything we wanted. We certainly did lose some major battles last night, and it’ll take a lot of hard work from those of us who have vowed to fight these injustices and correct these mistakes as we move forward.
Unfortunately California’s Prop 8 as well as similar propositions in Florida and Arizona passed, effectively banning gay marriage again in those states.
What do you get when you cross a conspiracy theorist & a creationist? – Apparently, this crazy psycho, Cynthia Dunbar, creationist, Christian, and member of the Texas State Board of Education:
So we can imagine the blatant disregard for our Constitution, but what other threats does an Obama administration pose? We have been clearly warned by his running mate, Joe Biden, that America will suffer some form of attack within the first 6 months of Obama’s administration. However, unlike Joe, I do not believe this “attack” will be a test of Obama’s mettle. Rather, I perceive it will be a planned effort by those with whom Obama truly sympathizes to take down the America that is threat to tyranny.
That’s right, SHE IS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION!
If there’s one thing America dislikes more than atheists, it’s $cientologists. If there’s 2 things they dislike more than atheists, it’s those damned Westboro Baptists. And if there’s 3 things they dislike more than atheists it’s those blasted vegetarians, which is what Montana candidate Roy Brown was accused of being:
“I am not and have never been a vegetarian,” Brown said. “I am disgusted by the baseless allegation that I am a vegetarian and that my personal eating habits should somehow be construed as opposed to the economic interests of Montana’s livestock industry.”
C’mon now. Was that really necessary? Seriously?
And Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC News awesomely tears the antivaccinationists a new one on the Today Show – You can see the video here or here.
And also, Stop Jenny McCarthy has been redesigned. Check out the new look.
Damned aliens pranksters! – Here’s another funny example of a blackout being blamed on a UFO even though the power company says it was just a faulty cable. But is it, or have the men in black gotten to them too?
This sounds familiar so I might have blogged about it before but apparently women do have more cooties.
AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:
Dried Mushrooms Slow Climate Warming In North – “The fight against climate warming has an unexpected ally in mushrooms growing in dry spruce forests covering Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and other northern regions, a new UC Irvine study finds.
When soil in these forests is warmed, fungi that feed on dead plant material dry out and produce significantly less climate-warming carbon dioxide than fungi in cooler, wetter soil. This came as a surprise to scientists, who expected warmer soil to emit larger amounts of carbon dioxide because extreme cold is believed to slow down the process by which fungi convert soil carbon into carbon dioxide.”
Skeleton Of Shaman 12,000 Year Old Found – “The skeleton of a 12,000 year-old Natufian Shaman has been discovered in northern Israel by archaeologists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The burial is described as being accompanied by “exceptional” grave offerings – including 50 complete tortoise shells, the pelvis of a leopard and a human foot. The shaman burial is thought to be one of the earliest known from the archaeological record and the only shaman grave in the whole region.” I predict the Young Earth Creationist response will be to put their hands over their ears and sing, “La, la, la, la. . .”
Could Life Have Started In Lump Of Ice? – “The universe is full of water, mostly in the form of very cold ice films deposited on interstellar dust particles, but until recently little was known about the detailed small scale structure. Now the latest quick freezing techniques coupled with sophisticated scanning electron microscopy techniques, are allowing physicists to create ice films in cold conditions similar to outer space and observe the detailed molecular organisation, yielding clues to fundamental questions including possibly the origin of life.”
Visit Mars Using New Spaceship Force Field? – “According to the international space agencies, “space weather” is the single greatest obstacle to deep space travel. Radiation from the sun and cosmic rays pose a deadly threat to astronauts in space. New research shows how knowledge gained from the pursuit of nuclear fusion research may reduce the threat to acceptable levels, making humanity’s first mission to Mars a much greater possibility.”
‘Junk’ DNA Proves Functional, Gene Study Finds – “In a paper published in Genome Research on Nov. 4, scientists at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) report that what was previously believed to be “junk” DNA is one of the important ingredients distinguishing humans from other species.”
An Anti-frailty Pill For Seniors? – “Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System report that a daily single oral dose of an investigational drug, MK-677, increased muscle mass in the arms and legs of healthy older adults without serious side effects, suggesting that it may prove safe and effective in reducing age-related frailty.”
Palling around with terrorists – A fantastic testimony of someone who spent far more time with members of the 60’s radicals The Weathermen than Obama ever did that further illustrates the absurdity of the McCain/Palin accusation.
Regarding all that godlessness stuff going on in North Carolina – Many of us were very happy when we heard that Kay Hagan had attended an event that included the Godless Americans PAC and were very angry at the vile bigotry displayed by the Elizabeth Dole campaign because of it. But then of course Hagan’s response to the Dole campaign left us almost as angry, so angry that after donating to the Hagan campaign, Friendly Atheist wrote them a complaint letter. Also found here is the response to that letter from Hagan’s staff.
Refusing to give candy to a baby:
That’ll teach kids not to choose liberal parents!
The votes have been tallied. Find out which creationist won Thunderf00t’s 1st annual Golden Crocoduck Award. It probably won’t come as a big surprise:
STOP JENNY NEWS:
OTHER QUACK MEDICINE:
New article in Huffington Post shows authors total and complete ignorance of medical science–so what else is new? – Sloane Barnett writes about allergies in children, and to quote PalMD:
She is about as well-informed about health issues as Bill O’Reilly is about anger management.
Atheist author Julian Barnes discusses death and atheism – In this interview he makes one point that I found particularly interesting:
America is one grand exception indeed. America manages to combine extreme materialism with extreme religiosity, and it is a bizarre thought that in this presidential cycle, we could have had a woman in the White House, we might have a black man in the White House, but if either of them had said they were atheists neither of them would have had a hope in hell, all too literally.
AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:
Motor Protein Found That Rewinds DNA – “Two biologists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered the first of a new class of cellular motor proteins that “rewind” sections of the double-stranded DNA molecule that become unwound, like the tangled ribbons from a cassette tape, in “bubbles” that prevent critical genes from being expressed.”
And even though Halloween is over, how can you resist Stan Lee reciting The Raven?
First, something I didn’t get around to mentioning was that the antivaccinationist blog Age of Autism (which I won’t be linking to) have taken notice of Stop Jenny. About a week and a half ago they made a virtually wordless blog linking to Stop Jenny along with just an image to suggest they don’t take us seriously. Similarly the commenters on that blog suggested that they too don’t take the site seriously while accusing the site of attacking Jenny’s character and freedom of speech, the 2 most frequently made baseless accusations made by antivaccinationists. But despite claiming to not view us as a threat at least one of those commenters did a fairly deep search for my name online. I know they must have spent some serious time on it because they copy and pasted a letter to the editor that I wrote my local newspaper several months ago that even I couldn’t find after 10 minutes of Googling my own name along with Googling my name with the words autism and vaccines. And that’s even after I’d reposted the letter to the editor here on Skepacabra. But what bothers me a little is that at the bottom of the article was my hometown, and that too was copy and pasted onto Age of Autism’s page. I’m not all that worried but I would have preferred my hometown not being outed so quickly.
But in other Stop Jenny news, it’s great to get mentioned right along side with The Skeptologist bloggers over at Skepticblog. Here Tim Farley makes a strong case for something that I’ve been saying a lot lately, which is that more and more skeptics should focus on specific figures in the world of woo woo. As I recently posted in a comment on another skeptical blog:
“Another useful tool I think is for more skeptics to follow the Robert Lancaster “Stop Sylvia Browne” model and create websites devoted to just one target in the world of woo woo. Obviously Randi’s been THE GUY when it comes to Uri Geller. Lancaster has dibs on Sylvia Browne. Mark Roberts is at least the go-to guy for debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories. Steve Novella’s got a great feud going with David Kirby. Orac’s constantly debating Jay Gordon in the comments section of Orac’s blog. Kylie Sturgess, another skeptic, and I have just started stopjenny.com to address Jenny McCarthy’s claims. If every skeptical activist were in addition to promoting general skepticism focus on one particular target, I think it would at least be beneficial.”
As I’ve stated before, Stop jenny was largely inspired by Lancaster’s Stop Sylvia Browne site specifically because I felt this was an effective model for skeptical activism. But in that last sentence I did write “in addition,” whereas Farley implies in his article linked to above that general skeptical blogs like this one aren’t worth the time put into them unless you’re one of the top dogs in the skeptical community.
Ideally, I think skeptical activists would choose a specific target for a website AND additionally have a more generalized skeptical blog, not just to compete for the attention of the proverbial choir but to get the attention of those who are on the fence or haven’t really thought about these things before. The more visible we are and more these issues are out there in cyberspace, the better.
On Skeptools, Farley also gives us a number of excellent ideas for where to take Skeptical activism in the future:
In many cases the information is out there, but it is scattered across various sites or is in a format that is not as usable as it could be. This is really all I did when I created What’s The Harm earlier this year: gather a bunch of information that was already out there, and put it in one place. The site has been almost universally well-received by skeptics, and I get several new links to it every week. It is clear that people find the site useful. And yet on some level all I did was move some information around.
I can think of several other ways skeptical information could be reorganized to provide something useful to the community:
Who’s Who in Woo-Woo: How about a site that simply catalogued all of the living people who are active in promoting those things that skeptics oppose, and listed their websites, latest activities, contact information and so on? Who are the top homeopaths working today? Who are the top earning psychics? Are there any active faith healers in Wales? These are useful questions that deserve good answers.
Paranormal Event Calendar: The skepchicks maintain an excellent event calendar for skeptical events in Google Calendar. How about a similar event calendar for paranormal, alt-medical or other events? These are highly interesting to skeptics who want to learn about “the enemy”. These events are publicly promoted, so the information is out there. Why not gather it one place?
Local Skepticism: How about collecting a catalog of all the practitioners or businesses that engage in questionable practices or sell dubious products in your own geographic area? This could give your local skeptic group a renewed focus on local skeptical activism.
Skeptic Wiki: Maybe you don’t have the time or inclination to build your own site. How about helping out with the editing of an existing site? Skeptic Wiki could use your help in documenting what skepticism is all about.
So I think this is going to be an exciting time to be skeptic as this movement seems to be growing each and every day.
Thanks for the shout out, Tim. Keep up the great work.
Both Some Canadian Skeptic & Skeptigirl have plugged the Stop Jenny site. I love how well the word is spreading. We’ve gotten tons of suggestions on how to improve the site as well as loads and loads of vitriolic hate mail. . .which was to be expected. Unfortunately, once people drink the Kool Aid, they are almost incapable of being rational about their beliefs and open to legitimate criticism. And because people have become so emotionally attached to their conclusions, it is impossible to simply explain why they’re wrong in a polite manner without being viewed in their minds a vicious, child-hating, and mean bully. You see it all the time with Richard Dawkins, whose never shown anything other than remarkable patience and civility. When you disagree with someone who is a cultist, denialist, or whatever you want to call it where they’re dogmatic in their views, It just doesn’t matter how you frame the criticism or how much evidence you have supporting that criticism. And ironically, they always project their own dogmatism onto you. Oh well, I’ll take it.
Something rotten in the state of Kentucky? – Northern Kentucky University is going to have a mock trial on the creation/evolution debate. But is this just an exercise to study the issue or just another misguided attempt to suggest science and faith are on equal footing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: any debate where one side is expected to provide evidence for its ever claim while the other side simply gets to use the faith card is a farce.
And here’s 1 creationist’s response to the creationist debate in Kentucky, led by Dr. Ben Scripture – It’s your standard argument from authority combined with a straw man.
And here’s a great video that summarizes the creationist clusterfuck in the Texas Board of Education along with detailed information about who these Evolution deniers are:
Either Abbie Smith’s psychic or Expelled is guilty of a fraudulent poll – Further proof that Ben Stein is not using Clear Eyes.
Poor turn out at atheist rally in Colorado – The rally was meant to protest an upcoming amendment that would legally define life as beginning at conception and effectively define abortion as murder. Over 100,000 Conservative Christians had signed off to get the amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot and yet only dozens of opponents of this insane amendment bothered to show up to protest it. I am deeply disappointed.
The 40 Days for Life campaign, a period of fasting and prayer to save babies from abortion, is in its final two weeks.
Unfortunately, they’re also harassing and intimidating women who visit health clinics as well as protesting and proselytizing. Aurora Jewell had a wonderful line about what Planned Parenthood does on a regular basis:
“We’re doing more in one day to prevent unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion than these people are doing in 40 days.”
WHAT’S THE HARM?
Joe Lastinger interviewed about the tragic loss of his 3 and-a-half year-old daughter to influenza – You can listen to the interview here. Yeah, we have tragic stories and emotional appeals on our side too.
Evan Bernstein explains what’s the harm in believing that space aliens are visiting our planet in UFOs – Just one example is you accept that something unreal is real, and before you know it, you wind up believing in all sorts of things that are untrue. In some cases, people have lost their entire fortunes sinking them in to irrational beliefs. And in some cases, like with the Heaven’s Gate cultists, it has cost people their lives.
STOP JENNY NEWS:
Dr. Phil Plait has plugged the site – Thanks Phil. You remain on my awesome list.
Also, we have been contacted by a MAJOR organization in the popular news media who is interested in interviewing us. I don’t want to mention the name yet but if anything comes of this, I’ll certainly keep you all updated.
An excellent overview of antivaccinationist Dr. Jay Gordon’s logical fallacies – It’s all here. And here’s more debunking of Gordon’s claims. For those who don’t know, Dr. Jay Gordon wrote the forward for Jenny McCarthy’s book.
These little cylinders of carbon molecules can be used to make materials that are lighter, stronger, and sexier than just about anything else we have.
Summary of studies showing sex is good for you – Take that abstinence-only sex education!
Yes, these kinds of people still exist in the United States in the 21st Century:
AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:
Scientists Create ‘World’s Most Relaxing Room’ – “Psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman has designed and constructed a large-scale multi-media space that aims to calm even the most stressed out of minds.” Gotta love Wiseman. His book Quirkology is included on my booklist on the right side of the screen.
Bird Flu Vaccine Protects People And Pets – “A single vaccine could be used to protect chickens, cats and humans against deadly flu pandemics, according to an article published in the November issue of the Journal of General Virology. The vaccine protects birds and mammals against different flu strains and can even be given to birds while they are still in their eggs, allowing the mass vaccination of wild birds.”
Dinosaur Dance Floor: Tracks At Jurassic Oasis – “University of Utah geologists identified an amazing concentration of dinosaur footprints that they call “a dinosaur dance floor,” located in a wilderness on the Arizona-Utah border where there was a sandy desert oasis 190 million years ago.”
Finding Hidden Tomb Of Genghis Khan – “According to legend, Genghis Khan lies buried somewhere beneath the dusty steppe of Northeastern Mongolia, entombed in a spot so secretive that anyone who made the mistake of encountering his funeral procession was executed on the spot.
Once he was below ground, his men brought in horses to trample evidence of his grave, and just to be absolutely sure he would never be found, they diverted a river to flow over their leader’s final resting place.
What Khan and his followers couldn’t have envisioned was that nearly 800 years after his death, scientists at UC San Diego’s Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) would be able to locate his tomb using advanced visualization technologies whose origins can be traced back to the time of the Mongolian emperor himself.”