News From Around The Blogosphere 2.6.10

February 7, 2010

1. Turkish Family buries 16-year-old daughter for talking to boys – Ha! Let’s see her talk to boys now! Way to go! You really showed her. What an incredibly appropriate punishment for your daughter who’s only crime was talking to people of her own age who happened to be of the opposite sex. Praise the Lord! Yes, I’m being ironic.

2. A new film about my less skeptical cousin – That’s right, there’s a new chupacabra “documentary.” This time he’s allegedly in Puerto Rico.

3. Rush Limbaugh touts creationist beliefs and climate change denialism – I know. I know. BIG SURPRISE! But what’s interesting is that he’s tied them together with a thin piece of fabric, proclaiming that “God” simply would not give his creations the power to destroy the world. Ha!  Checkmate scientists!

4. Amnesty International calls for investigation into more institutional Catholic child rape claims in Northern Ireland

The call comes after the Ryan Report in the Irish Republic which uncovered decades of institutional abuse.

Oh Catholics! If only you could use your power for good instead of pure fuckin’ evil. Again, I’m sure if any other organization like Starbucks or Nike was responsible for the institutionalize rape of thousands of child, people would continue to support them too.

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$64 million question

June 29, 2009

There’s a new reality/game  show that will soon be airing in Turkey called “Penitents Compete” (when translated). The premise of the show is that every week a group of different group of atheists will be brought before religious leaders of the various major religions as those religious leaders try to convert them.

No, I’m serious. That’s actually the premise of the show. At first when I heard about it, I was appalled. But in retrospect, I think I might kinda like it. Not only does it bring the religious debate into people’s living rooms but I surmise that it will implicitly also bring an atheist perspective into people’s living rooms. I only wish there were an American version.

Of course it’s very possible that the atheists chosen to appear on the show won’t be very well informed atheists and will be highly susceptible to convertion. In which case, this could give atheists even more bad press.

So the $64 million question is, will the atheists be converted or will they bring about the apostacy of others in the process…or more likely, will nobody change their views?

Either way, religion will likely continue to bare remarkable resemblance to the Wheel of Morality:


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.3.08

October 4, 2008

WHAT’S THE HARM?

Another child has died because his parents put faith ahead of common sense

Their son, 16-year-old Neil Jeffrey Beagley, died June 17 of complications from a urinary-tract blockage. A deputy state medical examiner said the boy apparently suffered for years from the intensely painful but medically treatable condition. . . Some of those present told police that Neil Beagley, despite his prolonged suffering, chose faith healing over medical care. . .After Beagley died, a medical examiner ruled his death could have been prevented had his family taken him to a doctor. Based upon findings from the grand jury, the Clackamas County Circuit Court issued arrest warrants Wednesday for Jeffrey Dean Beagley and Marci Rae Beagley in connection with their son’s death.

A 16-year-old is dead from a medically treatable condition and his parents are facing charges of “criminally negligent homicide.” And this is not uncommon:

According to a 1998 analysis by The Oregonian, at least 21 of the dozens of children buried since the 1950s in the Followers of Christ church cemetery south of Oregon City could have been saved by medical intervention. None of the deaths from that era resulted in prosecution.

And in Uganda, spiritual healing promoted by several Pentecostal churches has endangered the lives of many HIV-positive Africans told to forego their medications in favor of a miracle from God.

This is the harm caused by superstition and magical thinking. And this is why we fight.

HOMOPHOBIA NEWS:

Would you vote for this guy for political office?

“A young man asked me what I think of homosexual marriages and I said I think homosexuals should be executed,” he said. “My whole reason for running is the Bible and the Bible couldn’t be more clear on that point.”

This is a quote from David Popescu, and he yes, he’s really running for public office in Canada in the year 2008. Oh, and this is what he told high school students. Now the local police are apparently investigating whether or not he committed a hate crime and that bothers me. Yes, the guy is ignorant, delusional asshole but I happen to believe that being an ignorant, delusional asshole is not a crime. Nor is saying stupid things. At least not in the U.S. I’m a bit fuzzy on the laws in Canada. But in the U.S., the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution protects unpopular and offensive speech. And since this was not stated over the airwaves, had this taken place in the U.S. the FCC wouldn’t be able to fine him for obscenity. So this looks like another example of the self-appointed watchdogs of decency taking political correctness too far and infringing upon free speech. It is good to hear though that the students called for him to be “cut off.”

Candidates and teachers looked on in silence as students called for him to be “cut off.” Despite their outrage, the discussion moved to other topics.

My question is, why didn’t the faculty do anything? Since he began his little hate speech with a prayer in public school, someone should have stepped up right from the get-go and warned him to either skip the proselytizing or get the fuck out of the public school. But even if they hadn’t acted earlier, they should have cut him off and kicked him out long before the students called for such action. Apparently though, the board has now banned Popescu from future events.

The truth about Mercy Ministries of America – It’s said to be a Christian-based rehabilitation home for “young women who are seeking freedom from life-controlling problems.”

Entrusting their recovery to untrained counselors barely out of Bible college, the Mercy girls said that exorcisms and speaking in tongues took the place of treatment, that expulsion was the punishment for peeing without permission, and that DVDs featuring the testimony of former gays were peddled as a cure for lesbianism.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Mercy Ministries believes that bulimia, depression, self-mutilation, and unplanned pregnancies are all just symptomatic of the Devil’s work.

Alcorn admonished girls for wearing their hair short, despite keeping her owns locks in a shoulder-length bob. If girls got too close they were forced to sign a separation contract that prevented them from being alone together. Mercy didn’t advertise itself as a gay-repair ministry, but some girls enrolled to be cured of their “disease.”

Here’s a clip relating to another woman’s story about these kinds of ex-gay ministries:

Psychics predicted Palin wouldn’t do well in VP debate – “Overall, the consensus among the psychics was that the presidential race has at times been too unpredictable for them.” Wow, I’d hate to think what would happen if we didn’t have psychics to give us these important pieces of information.

This year’s Ig Nobel Award winners announced – For those who don’t know the Ig Nobel Awards, they award ten achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” For instance, here’s one of the winners:

“MEDICINE: Dan Ariely for demonstrating that expensive fake medicine is more effective than cheap fake medicine.”

No letter beginning, “I am more or less aware of your writings and ideology” can turn out very well – Apparently, those Islamic creationist fucktards in Turkey, the Science Research Foundation founded by Adnan Oktar want to have an email debate with PZ Myers to show how wonderfully open to free speech and scientific inquiry they are. PZ’s response is awesome:

NO.

Oktar is a crook, a fraud, a liar, and a man completely ignorant of the most basic concepts of science. There is no more point to my engaging him than already have, so why should I grant him the privilege of treating him as an equal? He hasn’t earned it.

Who’s to blame for the malfunctions with Hubble and the Large Hadron Collider? The planet Mercury of course. Duh! Remember?

Wow, this is the stupidest thing I’ve heard all day.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

‘Little Bang’ Triggered Solar System Formation – “For several decades, scientists have thought that the Solar System formed as a result of a shock wave from an exploding star—a supernova—that triggered the collapse of a dense, dusty gas cloud that contracted to form the Sun and the planets. But detailed models of this formation process have only worked under the simplifying assumption that the temperatures during the violent events remained constant.

Now, astrophysicists at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) have shown for the first time that a supernova could indeed have triggered the Solar System’s formation under the more likely conditions of rapid heating and cooling.”

Plastic Contaminants Linked To Health Risks – “Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates and flame retardants (PBDEs) are strongly associated with adverse health effects on humans and laboratory animals. A special section in the October 2008 issue of Environmental Research — “A Plastic World” — provides critical new research on environmental contaminants and adverse reproductive and behavioral effects.”

Bacterial Cell’s ‘Crisis Command Center’ Seen – “A bacteria cell’s ‘crisis command centre’ has been observed for the first time swinging into action to protect the cell from external stress and danger, according to new research published in Science.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.29.08

September 30, 2008

The Economist explains why the research regarding possible dangers of cell phones remains inconclusive

David Gorski explains how he became a major critic of the antivaccine crowd & reviews Paul Offit’s book

American purity balls and brainwashing young children – I’ve heard about these before and I find the whole thing extraordinarily creepy and disturbing.

POLITICAL NEWS:

Democrat Kay Hagan pulls ahead of Republican Elizabeth Dole – As you may recall, Dole criticized Hagan almost exactly 1 month ago for having the audacity to meet with secular organizations. . .you know, atheists. So I hope Hagan kicks Dole’s ass.

Hell No, We Won’t Coal – Al Gore is calling on the nation’s youthful, unemployed, and unwashed to commit civil disobedience to stop construction of new coal plants that don’t install carbon capturing technologies. Coal is one of the most plentiful, non-renewable energy resources on the planet and 40% of our electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, but it’s terrible on the environment.

CREATIONIST NEWS:

Another absurd creationist rip-off of the Randi Million Dollar Challenge w/ an impossible to reach goalpost – Now it’s the creationist who got Richard Dawkins’ website banned in Turkey has offered:

“10 trillion Turkish lira to anyone who produces a single intermediate-form fossil demonstrating evolution” – a sum roughly equal to £4.4trn.

PZ Myers calculates that to be $8,010,890,000,000. Eight trillion, ten billion, eight hundred and ninety million dollars. Of course creationists have tried this gambit before. The trick is that they’re asking for a single fossil that will prove evolution because they believe (or profess to believe) despite being corrected many, many times that evolution means that individual fossils should resemble some sort of hybrid or chimera like Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort’s classic straw man, The Crocoduck. Evolution can’t be proven with a single fossil because the very nature of evolution requires the comparative analysis of many fossils:

Did Kirk Cameron’s obscure and undoubtedly crappy Christian movie only in limited release do better than the mainstream blockbuster “Eagle Eye?” – Depends on who you ask. If you ask Kirk’s partner in crime, Ray “The Banana Guy” Comfort, then the answer is yes. If you ask any other rational person, the answer is not even close. ON his blog, Ray cites advanced ticket sales:

“In terms of advance sales, Cameron’s Fireproof, an ultra-low-budget marriage-minded family drama opening on about 800 screens, has smoked LaBeouf’s $105 million, opening-everywhere thriller Eagle Eye.

Fireproof accounted for a whopping 40 percent of all advance sales this week on Fandango, the ticket service said today. Eagle Eye was a distant second, representing 17 percent of sales. Through Wednesday, Fireproof was leading the week with 23 percent of all advance sales. No other movie, “Eagle Eye” included, was even in double digits.”

Of course many of the commenters on Ray’s blog pointed out the problems with this so-called victory. Kirk’s little movie got terrible reviews. One commenter reported that “Eagle Eye still made $29.2 million in its opening weekend, compared to Fireproof’s $6.5 million, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations.” Another commenter wrote: “Just what are “advance sales” for films? I’m picturing an organization (an evangelical church perhaps) buying up reams of tickets and telling members to go.” Another wrote, “Why exactly should advance ticket sales through Fandango mean anything? . . . That puts Eagle Eye at $8,305 per theater, and Fireproof at $7,764 per theater. Without even taking into consideration whether Fireproof opened only in areas where it was more likely to do well (and not in those in which the opposite was true), Eagle Eye still did better on a per-theater basis. All you’ve really said is that more people chose to buy advance tickets through Fandango for Fireproof than for Eagle Eye. I assure you, this holds significance for no one except Fandango”

Charlie’s Playhouse – A website that sells Evolution-friendly toys to children.

Mercury Retrograde – a term hijacked by the astrologers

WHAT’S THE HARM?

Can tithing hurt you during a financial crisis? – Some Christians are continuing to tithe (give 10% of their income to church) despite not being able to pay their mortgage, once again proving that belief in religion and superstition does great harm.

And another example of what’s the harm:

Here’s Age of Autism’s latest blog:

“If you don’t like the way your tax dollars are being spent, or not spent, on autism research, this is your chance to speak up and take action. The strategic plan (SP) for autism research will guide federal spending on autism research for the next five years, subject to annual updates.”

Everyone who is even the slightest bit concerned about autism, the hosts of virtually extinct diseases that could return if enough people stop vaccinating, and the idea of medical science being directed by scientifically illiterate quacks should find this proposal absolutely frightening.

THE MORE YOU KNOW: POPULAR MYTHS

The healthy human body is exactly 98.6 degrees F – This medical myth is FALSE

EPIC FAIL!

Crackergate launches a revolution on TouTube – Once again Catholic outrage over something has drawn far more attention to it than existed prior to their outrage. Now YouTubers are making their own videos “desecrating” the Eucharist. Good job. Way to fail, Catholics:

“His videos began two months ago with the user saying into a webcam that he denied the Holy Spirit, then splitting a host in half and eating it with disrespect.”

Please somebody tell me how one eats a cracker with disrespect, because I’ve got a Nabisco cracker that has pissed me off the last time. Then I got to get me a communion wafer of my own to defile. If anyone can get me a communion wafer, please let me know. I will defile it worse than any god made of crackers has ever been defiled before. Here is one YouTuber cited in the article who’s really going to town on these wafers. I particularly like this one where the body of Christ gets nailed:

AND NOW A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Solar Cell Sets World Efficiency Record – “Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have set a world record in solar cell efficiency with a photovoltaic device that converts 40.8 percent of the light that hits it into electricity. This is the highest confirmed efficiency of any photovoltaic device to date.”

Brain Disorder Leaves Patient Always ‘Lost’ -“Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute recently documented the first case of a patient who, without apparent brain damage or cognitive impairment, is unable to orient within any environment. Researchers also believe that there are many others in the general population who may be affected by this developmental topographical disorder.”

Dark Energy: Is It Merely An Illusion? – “Dark energy is at the heart of one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics, but it may be nothing more than an illusion, according physicists at Oxford University.”

NASA’s Dirty Secret: Moon Dust – “The Apollo Moon missions of 1969-1972 all share a dirty secret. “The major issue the Apollo astronauts pointed out was dust, dust, dust,” says Professor Larry Taylor, Director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee. Fine as flour and rough as sandpaper, Moon dust caused ‘lunar hay fever,’ problems with space suits, and dust storms in the crew cabin upon returning to space.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.20.08

September 21, 2008

The McCain voting record on the environment – McCain may be able to give us the answers he thinks we want to hear on the Science Debate 2008 questions but his voting record isn’t as good at lying as he is.

With all the guardian angels floating about, why even see a doctor? – A result poll shows that 55 percent of Americans believe in guardian angels. I guess they just must have all missed the bus to Galveston, Texas.

Mormons biggest contributors to ballot initiative to reverse gay marriage decision in California

Those Turks sure are persistent – PZ Myers offers this suggestion:

“First they ban Richard Dawkins’ website, then they buy out the entire print run of the Turkish translation of The Ancestor’s Tale in a day. Clearly, we need to start making smuggling runs, bringing in copies of The God Delusion and printed pages of the daily commentary on richarddawkins.net, so we can make a fabulous profit.

There’s a certain romance to the idea of being a grim, scruffy smuggler, braving the rugged Aegean coast in daring midnight runs to bring atheist literature to underground freethinker salons of swarthy, hard-bitten raki-guzzling Turks.”

Coming so soon after International Talk Like A Pirate Day and after re-watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, I’d only like to add: YO HO!

Palin Toast:

Impromptu religious debate on Real Time:

Electrical failure with Large Hadron Collider taking it out of commission for over 2 months

Top 8 Atheist Moments on The Colbert Report

Did Neanderthals Pray? part 1

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Naphthalene Found In Interstellar Space – “A team of scientists led by researchers from the Instituto Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has succeeded in identifying naphthalene, one of the most complex molecules yet discovered in the interstellar medium. The detection of this molecule suggests that a large number of the key components in prebiotic terrestrial chemistry could have been present in the interstellar matter from which the Solar System was formed.”

Emergence Of Agriculture Took Much Longer – “Researchers led by Dr Robin Allaby of the University of Warwick’s plant research arm Warwick HRI have found evidence that genetics supports the idea that the emergence of agriculture in prehistory took much longer than originally thought.”

Series of videos debunking faith healers, seances, psychics, casino cheats, psychic surgery, and crop circles:


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.7.08

September 8, 2008

The Large Hadron Collider in Europe will commence smacking protons together on Wednesday and we’ll all still be alive to see Thursday.

This is awesome:

Is there a Sherlock Holmes Fallacy?

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

This quote belongs to Sherlock Holmes, the famous fictional, hyper-rationalist detective imagined by the ironically anti-rationalist, paranormal-believing Arthur Conan Doyle, who was for a time friends with skeptic Harry Houdini and who at least one historian has linked to the infamous Piltdown Man hoax of 1912 that creationists are still citing as some great evidence that Evolution is a massive scientific conspiracy.

Though interestingly, in 2002, Sherlock Holmes was inducted as an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry — the only fictional character so honoured — in appreciation of his contributions to forensic investigation.[7]

Anyway, here Steven Novella improves upon the logic of the famous Holmes quote. (though his is perhaps less poetic):

“Within the set of known phenomena, once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be true. If the entire set of known phenomena are eliminated as impossible, then the solution is simply uknown until a new phenomena that can serve as a solution is positively established.”

What is the “Ancient Code?” And is it the key to unlock the mysteries of existence? – “Ancient Code” is another crappy movie jumping on “The Secret” and “What The Bleep” bandwagons of New Age nonsense that’s also trying to market itself as being like “The Da Vinci Code” but true. As they say on the website:

“It’s bigger than The Secret, more powerful than What the Bleep, more dangerous than The Da Vinci Code, and this will affect us all… because it’s real…”

Hmm. I wonder if the secret to unlocking the mysteries of the universe revolves around ending sentences with unnecessary ellipses to pretentiously suggest the infinite possibilities.

ATHEIST NEWS

RichardDawkins.net is banned in Turkey – This is the post that led to the ban.

Cowardly creationist picks on PZ Myers’ daughter

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Flightless Bird Evolution Theories Challenged – “Large flightless birds of the southern continents – African ostriches, Australian emus and cassowaries, South American rheas and the New Zealand kiwi – do not share a common flightless ancestor as once believed. Instead, each species individually lost its flight after diverging from ancestors that did have the ability to fly, according to new research conducted in part by University of Florida zoology professor Edward Braun.” -Damn, I’m going to have to listen to creationist propaganda about how this one correction debunks all of evolution for some reason.