News From Around The Blogosphere 7.20.11

July 21, 2011

Okay, it’s been awhile so this is going to a long one.

1. Campus Crusade for Christ is changing their name – In an attempt to change their image, the CCC has finally decided to get rid of that pesky “Crusade” in their name to avoid offending people and are now calling themselves the very inoffensive “Campus Holocaust for Christ.” Just kidding. From now on they’ll be known as the “cru”, cause strange lowercase acronyms are hip, chill, and groovy with the kids these days. Though if they really want to be more popular with the kiddies, maybe they should just call themselves Lady Gaga, and then put out announcements that Lady Gaga is coming to their campus. Can I solve image problems or what? I expect my check in the mail later this week.

2. Deepak Chopra, the videogame! Rated M for Moron – You know, for years I’ve listened to Jack Thompson shamelessly blaming video games for just about every atrocity in human history from the Crusades (probably) to the Virginia Tech shootings. But now Deepak Chopra is making me realize video games really can be harmful to society due to his new game called “Leela” (I’m assuming because he’s a huge Futurama fan) involving “seven different interactive exercises based on the seven ‘chakras,’ the points along the body that Chopra says serve as energy centers. No, Chopra has no background in actual human anatomy; I guess this is what he means by willing things into existence. If you believe in nonsense long enough and you can invent your own biology. In related news, Phil Plait has penned an short piece published in Playboy magazine that chastized Chopra for massacring science with his mouth.

3. Ireland vs. Vatican

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny condemned the Vatican for continuing to downplay the rape and sexual torture of children in order to protect the image of the Catholic church.

Kenny’s condemnation comes in response to last week’s release of the Cloyne report, a scathing expose of current and ongoing Vatican efforts to cover-up the ever-present sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy.

Kenny claimsthe Cloyne report “tells us a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children;” and, “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.”

PZ Myers also wrote about this story here. And retired Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, has been in hiding since the Cloyne report exposing his poor handling of child sex abuse allegations was published.

And speaking of the Catholic Church…

4. Catholic bishop bans fund-raising for breast cancer research

A bishop from Toledo, Ohio will not allow parishes and parochial schools to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation (which helps fund the fight against breast cancer) because there’s a chance they may one day fund embryonic stem-cell research.

Glad to see they have their priorities in place.

5. Austrian officials allow Pastafarian to wear colander in drivers license photo – Austrian Niko Alm is being given permission to wear a colander, the official headwear for Pastafarians, on the license, which is clearly a far superior fashion statement than the Jewish yarmulke. Blessed be the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his noodly appendages.

6. Child Holocaust-denying nazi musicians renounce much of their former beliefs – The Olsen Twin look-alikes who form the Hitler-admiring pop band Prussian Blue have now publicly rejected the views that made them famous and for which their band was named after.

7. Jesus appears on Walmart receipt – Either that or Charles Manson, though that’s not really a very meaningful distinction.

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Another video games cause violence study, really?

November 6, 2008

How many times must we go through this? These studies never pan out. Like yesterday’s news story about yet another study that allegedly suggests that more sexual content on television increases teen pregnancy, we’re dealing with correlation and not causation. Maybe violent kids just prefer violent video games. The conjecture can go both ways. My favorite quote of the piece:

“It’s not the violence per se that’s the problem, it’s the context and goals of the violence,” said Olson, citing past research on TV violence and behavior.

There are definitely games kids shouldn’t be playing, she said, for example those where hunting down and killing people is the goal.

That constitutes just about every video game I ever played as a child. And yet someone I managed to not rape or murder anyone. I never even caused a school shooting, Jack Thompson’s favorite target when applying what I call his Video Game Unifying Theory of Violence, similar to Irreduceable Complexity, except instead of resulting in “God did it,” the gap is filled by “Video games did it.” I wrote about Thompson in a column last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if this study causes him to reemerge under the rock he came from. And here are some classic moments in Jack Thompson’s fear-mongering crusade to stop video game violence:


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.28.08

October 29, 2008

THIS DAY IN GOD:

Christopher Hitchens tears Sarah Palin a new one

This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just “people of faith” but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.

The McCain campaign is handing out Christian voter guides – Vote for McCain because he’s not a secret Muslim.

The most extreme theocrat at The White House was just fired – Apparently, Scott Bloch is as bad as they come.

Finally, Bloch’s religious blinkers also explain his willingness to lend the credence his office to the Intelligent Design movement (knowing, of course, that he lacked jurisdiction) and to the anti-vaccination fanatics. Both reveal a scientific illiteracy that is borne not of ignorance but of intentional, ideological blindness; the latter incident was particularly irresponsible.

Christian rock tour celebrating Genesis canceled due to lack of interest.

Heaven: The Game -Great graphics for a Christian video game. Just as long as it lets me steal cars and beat the crap out of hookers, I’ll be happy. And is that a female saint wearing a corset? Whatever. And where are all the black people in heaven?

Chuck Norris’s nephew got an F in fifth grade because he wrote an essay on evolution that instead said god created the earth…and the teacher had a degree from the “University of Berkeley”, which apparently is Norris-speak for University of California at Berkeley. If only there were some sort of Chuck Norris joke to summarize this story? Oo, I got one: Chuck Norris doesn’t understand science. End of sentence .

A bullshit study in religious beliefs of ophthalmology patients

A more appropriate subtitle might have been “An Opportunistic Exercise to Build CVs and Promote Religious Belief.” This goes on the NCCAM’s scorecard as one more instance of wasting our tax dollars on studies that should never have been funded. That list is long and is steadily getting longer.

Reggie Finley‘s show The Infidel Guy has been losing his audience

ISLAM:

11 year old girl set on fire for immodesty – “

“Police arrested her great uncle, who allegedly poured kerosene on the girl and set her ablaze on Friday. Investigators told the PTI news agency that the 55-year-old man, a conservative Muslim, had told the police that he was enraged at the girl wearing lipstick and being “scantily dressed.”

How a psychic believer became a psychic skeptic

SPOOKY!

Are illegal space aliens crossing over into Texas? – Back in January numerous sources reported strange lights in the sky in Erath County and now the mysterious lights have returned, as has space-alien-related tourism. Nothing we haven’t all heard or seen a million times, unimpressive video of several dots of light in the sky the night military craft happened to have been in the area along with people insisting their certain that what they saw had to be space aliens. Yawn.

Over a three-month period this summer there were 1,000 UFO sightings filed with the National UFO Reporting Center.

Some 75 of those UFOs were reported over the state of Texas.

And on a related note: How to fake UFO photographs:

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Soybeans No Longer ‘A Musical Fruit?’ – “Soybeans may drop off the list of musical fruit. Scientists in Singapore are reporting victory over some consumers’ No. 1 complaint about soy products — the “flatulence factor” caused by indigestible sugars found in soy.

Scientists have now developed a method for significantly reducing the amount of flatulence-causing carbohydrates in soy yogurt while raising the levels of healthy antioxidants known as isoflavones.”

Red Enhances Men’s Attraction To Women -“A groundbreaking study by two University of Rochester psychologists to be published online Oct. 28 by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology adds color—literally and figuratively—to the age-old question of what attracts men to women.

Through five psychological experiments, Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology, and Daniela Niesta, post-doctoral researcher, demonstrate that the color red makes men feel more amorous toward women. And men are unaware of the role the color plays in their attraction.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.10.08

September 11, 2008

The World Hasn’t Ended! – Actually the world was about to end but I saved it with my divine powers from God. And for just $19.95, I can heal what ails ya with the power of faith. Seriously though, the Large Hadron Collider aka The Big Bang Machine aka the most powerful particle accelerator on Earth was a success. The world’s most powerful physics experiment ever is happening now. So far the particles are just whizzing by in circles at near the speed of light but the particle-smashing will happen eventually, I think.

CREATIONIST NEWS:

And not surprisingly, Ray “The Banana Guy” Comfort thinks the money spent on the LHC would have been better spent on feeding the poor because he doesn’t understand the importance of the LHC and doesn’t want to understand. Of course he’s not exactly feeding the poor either. He’d sooner give them a bible tract than food. The refutations of his argument in the comments section of the blog are worth checking out.

Creationist Dinesh D’Souza pissed at PZ Myers over Crackergate – Enough already! It’s was frackin’ cracker!

The Spore Report – New evolution-based computer game ‘Spore’ has displeased creationists. Oh my science! This guy actually has a whole blog devoted to trashing this game. The game’s gotta be good! I was rather amused by this entry where he thinks of contacting Jack Thompson until learning Thompson’s a terrible lawyer. One of these days I got to do a whole blog on Jack Thompson. If you really want to laugh, look him up on YouTube.

And are video games secretly teaching kids the scientific method?

Is Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) any more popular today than 10 or 20 years ago?

CONSPIRACY THEORY NEWS:

Anti-vaxxers do the only thing they can do when faced with even more evidence that’s devastating to their case: deny, deny, deny, cover their ears and hum real loud, and of make up conspiracy claims. Of course, one of the lead authors of the recent MMR study was an anti-vaxxer until this study convinced her otherwise. And since Barack Obama said he’s against “selective vaccination” they’ve dubbed him a Big Pharma shill too.

Just because they’re not out to get you doesn’t mean “Big Pharma” WON’T screw you – Finally, people who actually know what they’re talking about are attacking many of the corrupt tactics the pharmaceutical companies have been using like allegedly manipulating studies and publications,

“swaying doctors and medical students to their brands with gifts, funding research at top teaching hospitals but keeping control of the studies and results, failing to disclose study authors’ conflicts of interest, even taking over the continuing medical education system for doctors by running courses on new treatments. Critics say such courses are taught by company-paid speakers who often promote expensive new drugs over older, cheaper ones.”

Wow! Of course the unfortunate and unintended side effect of doctors speaking out about these abuses is that it reinforces the paranoid great conspiracy theories of the delusional, who will from now on point to this as “smoking gun proof” that Big Pharma is in the pocket of George Bush, the evil bankers of the New World Order, and the shape-shifting reptiles from outer space in order to blow up the Twin Towers, free Xenu, and rule us all for no good reason other than for an abstract, impractical, and cartoonish idea of absolute power. But of course I’m just saying that because I’m one of THEM! HAIL XENU! (Thanks Brian)

Speaking of Xenu, On September 13, 2008, join Anonymous for “SCHOOL’S CLOSED,” a global free speech event in cities worldwide:

And biologists on the verge of creating life:

“And lab led by Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School, is building simple cell models that can almost be called life. Szostak’s protocells are built from fatty molecules that can trap bits of nucleic acids that contain the source code for replication. Combined with a process that harnesses external energy from the sun or chemical reactions, they could form a self-replicating, evolving system that satisfies the conditions of life, but isn’t anything like life on earth now, but might represent life as it began or could exist elsewhere in the universe . . . The replication isn’t wholly autonomous, so it’s not quite artificial life yet, but it is as close as anyone has ever come to turning chemicals into biological organisms.”

Post-Modern assault on evidence-based medicine – They actually coined the term “microfascism” to describe basing ones beliefs on evidence. That makes my head hurt. If evidence-based beliefs are just another narrative, I wonder if these guys wouldn’t mind leaping out of a 30-story window. Who knows what will happen? Don’t be fooled by the narrative of the authoritative scientists. It’s just as valid that jumping from a 30-story window will give you immortality. It’s just a narrative!

How to be an atheist activist

Religion and Social Problems:

REMEMBERING 9/11

PalMD has a great piece on 9/11.

And here’s a very strange piece I wrote about the tragedy 2 years ago.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

World’s First Synthetic Tree Developed – “Stroock and graduate student Tobias Wheeler have created a “tree” that simulates the process of transpiration, the cohesive capillary action that allows trees to wick moisture upward to their highest branches . . . Of course, the synthetic tree doesn’t look much like a tree at all. It consists of two circles side by side in the gel, patterned with evenly spaced microfluidic channels to mimic a tree’s vascular system.”

New Approach To Explain Religious Behavior – “Without a way to measure religious beliefs, anthropologists have had difficulty studying religion. Now, two anthropologists from the University of Missouri and Arizona State University have developed a new approach to study religion by focusing on verbal communication, an identifiable behavior, instead of speculating about alleged beliefs in the supernatural that cannot actually be identified.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 8.27.08

August 28, 2008

Stem cell technology may make blood donations a thing of the past

Proof that prayer works? – Not quite. Remember when Focus on the Family asked people to pray for rain during the DNC and it didn’t happen but by then everyone forgot all about it? Well, apparently god missed and instead a sprinkler went off, flooding a skybox booth belonging to Fox News. I guess even god hates Fox News.

The standing of science in America – Interesting column from Science Progress. Here’s it’s conclusion:

“Americans might tune in to some science news, visit science museums, and even adjust their diets and prescriptions based upon the latest studies. But it’s not enough. Without anything beyond a surface-level appreciation of science, they stand far too blind when staring down something of paramount importance: The future.”

Where do you get your mercury? – Today’s issue of JAMA has an interesting study of Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicines. It turns out that many of them contain a significant amount of toxic heavy metals…including mercury, and much higher levels than the minute traces found in a flu vaccine. Here, we’re dealing with actual dangerous levels of the stuff.

Christians continue their long-honored tradition of crappy knock-offs of other people’s video games

SECULAR VALUE VOTERS! – The Secular Coalition for America is taking back the word “values” from the Religious Right.

Stephen Colbert better know an atheist tomorrow – My favorite secular lobbyist Lori Lipman Brown is to appear on The Colbert Report tomorrow night (Thursday) during the “Better Know A Lobbyist” segment.


A Christian Critique of $cientology – This is a funny piece in the way it compares the 2 remarkably similar belief systems, though to be clear, while Christianity has some cult-like behaviors, Scientology is a cult in the strictest sense of the word. And it’s important to clarify that as insanely dopey as their beliefs are, my principle criticism is of their cult behavior because otherwise they’ll just try to get away with claiming we’re just bigoted towards their “religion.”

IT’S TIME FOR ANOTHER EPIC FAIL!

Yet another Creationist EPIC FAIL! – This time they’re taken down by the publication Chemical and Engineering News.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

First Prehistoric Pregnant Turtle Discovered – “A 75-million-year-old fossil of a pregnant turtle and a nest of fossilized eggs that were discovered in the badlands of southeastern Alberta by scientists and staff from the University of Calgary and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology are yielding new ideas on the evolution of egg-laying and reproduction in turtles and tortoises.”

Hobbit-like Dwarfs: Bone Parts Don’t Add Up – “Misinterpreted fragments of leg bones, teeth and brow ridges found in Palau appear to be an archaeologist’s undoing, according to researchers at three institutions. They say that the so-called dwarfs of these Micronesian islands actually were modern, normal-sized hunters and gatherers.” Ugh, you just know the creationists are going to misrepresent this story and play it up as “proof” that evolution is wrong. Though kinda odd that the “evolutionists” discovered the error while The Discovery Institute still hasn’t spent one cent on actual research. Science is self-correcting.

Is Extinction Or Diversity On The Rise? – “It’s no secret that humans are having a huge impact on the life cycles of plants and animals. UC Santa Barbara’s Steven D. Gaines and fellow researcher Dov Sax decided to test that theory by studying the world’s far-flung islands.”