“What you think you know may not be so.”
(This is your "Witches Night" Bag o' Tricks & Treats!)
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QUOTE / UNQUOTE
"A man in the wrong may more easily be convinced than one half right."
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]
"A problem well defined is a problem half solved."
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]
" It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place." [Henry Louis Mencken]
THE ARROGANCE OF AN OHIO
Pharyngula - PZ Myers
The NY Times is reporting that Ohio scientists are nearly unanimous in mobilizing for the school board election there—and they aren't on the side of creationists like Deborah Owens Fink. It's interesting that we're seeing such activism from scientists; the response from the creationists is also enlightening.
But Dr. Owens Fink, a professor of marketing at the University of Akron, said the curriculum standards she supported did not advocate teaching intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism. Rather, she said, they urge students to subject evolution to critical analysis, something she said scientists should endorse. She said the idea that there was a scientific consensus on evolution was “laughable.”
Note the next bit; the reporter, Cornelia Dean, is one of the better science people at the Times, and this kind of unambiguous statement about the status of evolutionary theory is exactly what the media ought to be saying more often.
Although researchers may argue about its details, the theory of evolution is the foundation for modern biology, and there is no credible scientific challenge to it as an explanation for the diversity and complexity of life on earth. In recent years, with creationist challenges to the teaching of evolution erupting in school districts around the country, groups like the National Academy of Sciences, perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent scientific organization, have repeatedly made this point.
But the academy’s opinion does not matter to Dr. Owens Fink, who said the letter was probably right to say she had dismissed it as “a group of so-called scientists.”
Owens Fink is so wrong on every count that you'd think she ought to be mortified at having her ignorance so boldly displayed in the pages of a major newspaper; I suspect her arrogance is great enough that she'll be oblivious. There certainly is a consensus in the scientific community favoring evolution. You could argue that a consensus is not a guarantor of truth, but Owens Fink is simply closing her eyes and denying what the practitioners of science, including a majority of the scientists in her own state, are saying.
As for calling the NAS “a group of so-called scientists.”…how clueless can
she be? The NAS is the assembly of the elite of American science;
admission is selective and only the most prestigious, high-powered big-wigs of
the scientific establishment get in. It may be a bit stodgy and conservative,
but one thing it is not is a bunch of fake scientists from the fringe—it's kind
of the anti-Discovery Institute. Dismissing it is an amazingly foolish thing
for a professor of marketing to do.
Tom Sawyer is opposing 6-year State Shool Board board member Deborah Owens Fink. He began his career as a public school teacher and soon went on to serve as Chair of Ohio's House Education Committee while serving in the General Assembly. He served as Mayor of Akron and as US Congressman for 16 years. He was deeply involved in the Education Committee where he was active in every education measure taken in the House of Representatives, and authored the National Literacy Act (Public Law 102-73) and the Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Improvement Act (Public Law 102-325).
He co-sponsored pivotal education measures, such as the Excellence and Equity in Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and wrote several sections of the newly reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, including provisions to develop technological literacy for students, to promote the use of technology in all aspects of education, and to strengthen training and professional development for teachers.
Visit this website to contribute to keep Creationism out of public school biology classrooms: Help Ohio Public Education
There's also a link to Tom Sawyer and other pro-science board candidates.
OUT OF BODY? NOPE, INSIDE THE MIND!
Rationally Speaking by Massimo Pigliucci
Oct. 17, 2006
Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America’s Obesity Epidemic, by J. Eric Oliver, New York: Oxford
University Press, 228 pages, $20/$15.95 paper
The Diet Myth: Why America’s Obsession With Weight Is Hazardous to Your Health, by Paul Campos, New York:Gotham Books, 299 pages, $15 paper
The government seems to have made tremendous strides in its War on Fat. In 2004 researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “poor diet and physical inactivity” were killing 400,000 Americans a year, a number that was widely presented as an estimate of “obesity-related deaths.” Just one year later, the estimate had been reduced to about 100,000. To cut the death toll by 75 percent in the space of a year, the anti-fat crusaders must be doing something right.
Or something wrong. Ascribing deaths from chronic diseases to specific
lifestyle variables is a tricky, highly uncertain business, and the 400,000
figure, which was announced in The Journal of the American Medical Association
by a team that included the director of the CDC, was suspect from the start.
For one thing, the association between fatness and mortality disappears among
Americans 65 and older, the age group that accounts for most deaths.
… the death rate among chubby (but not obese) people in (another) study was lower than the death rate among thin (but not underweight) people, to the tune of 86,000 fewer deaths a year. Which makes you wonder exactly what it means to be “overweight” and why we should be worried about it.
University of Chicago political scientist J. Eric Oliver, author of Fat Politics, and University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos, author of The Diet Myth (published in hardcover as The Obesity Myth), both take up this question, and they reach similar conclusions. First and foremost, they argue that, except for certain conditions associated with very high BMIs,… there is little evidence that extra weight per se causes health problems...
Having shown that the medical case against fatness is much weaker than government officials and anti-obesity activists claim, Oliver and Campos ask why it is pushed so aggressively and accepted so widely. They see motivations ranging from the rational (the vested interests of obesity researchers, public health officials, and the diet and pharmaceutical industries) to the irrational (a deep-seated cultural revulsion at fat people, disproportionately poor symbols of sloth who serve as stand-ins for minority scapegoats). …Assuming they are right that fatness per se is the wrong target, that the real threats to our health are poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles, the question remains: What is the government’s proper role in addressing these threats?
…In particular, they do not directly challenge the slippery “public health” reasoning that treats risky behavior like a contagious disease, providing an open-ended excuse for government meddling in formerly private decisions. The same rationale that makes smoking, drinking, drug use, driving without a seat belt, or biking without a helmet a “public health” issue—the government’s purported duty to discourage actions that may lead to disease or injury—applies with equal force to diet, exercise, and every other lifestyle variable that affects morbidity and mortality.
“Fat,” says Campos, “is a cultural construct, not a medical fact… (in 1998) the NIH yielded to a World Health Organization recommendation that “overweight” be defined downward to a BMI of 25, with 30 or more qualifying as “obese.” Oliver says “the scientific ‘evidence’ to justify this change”—which made millions of Americans overweight overnight—“was nonexistent,” since “there is no uniform point on the BMI scale where all these diseases [linked to weight] become more evident.”
…But obesity researchers usually do not take into account fitness levels, nutrition, yo-yo dieting, and the side effects of weight loss drugs…
…Oliver notes that public health specialists in the U.S. “needed new problems to tackle in order to justify their existence” after their triumphs over communicable diseases in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He also criticizes an influential CDC PowerPoint presentation that made obesity look like a plague sweeping the nation. But he does not nail down the crucial distinction between true public health problems like tuberculosis and air pollution, which involve risks imposed on people against their will, and “public health” problems like smoking and overeating, which involve risks people voluntarily assume…
Oliver seems comfortable with the idea of enhancing freedom by restricting
it. “Our increasing affluence and consumerism seem to have trapped us,” he
writes. “As the obesity epidemic shows, maximizing our choices does not
necessarily maximize our freedom or power.…The expansion of choices is no
longer making our lives any easier; in fact it may be making them harder.” …the
purpose of government-generated “public health” statistics is to alarm the public
and expand the government… Read the entire article @ Reason On-line
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TURN ME ON, DEAD MAN
Outing the devil by playing pop music backwards — whodathunkit, it's back! For that, we have Elder G. Craige Lewis to thank — a fiery minister who likes to preach to our armed forces. On a recent tour of Pacific Rim naval bases, he alleged that on Judgment Day, fire and brimstone will rain down on the evil messengers of hip hop music.
Lewis played a song off Jay-Z’s “Black Album” backward for the audience to hear the “Six, six, six … murder, murder Jesus” within the song. The Oscar-award winning group Three 6 Mafia incorporates Satan’s calling card — the three sixes — into its name, Lewis said. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony used a Satanic document as cover art and the lyrics of Ja Rule, Jay-Z and 50 Cent equate the singers to God, which is a Luciferian concept, he said.
“Lucifer was the chief musician in heaven before he fell to Earth and became Satan,” Lewis said. “It’s ridiculous to see these people thanking God for selling so many records or winning awards. You can’t serve two masters. You can’t dance with the devil and praise the Lord.” He called on parents to destroy their hip-hop CDs and posters and to “tighten things up” for their kids.
“Cookie” was moved to post this response:
" …This particular pastor is revealing the Word of God to people who have been influenced by hip hop music and this message has shaken alot of people. And to be honest with you, after seeing that video, the Holy Spirit revealed to me and my husband that other music we had was not good. We didn't own much hip hop but we did have music that was not pleasing to God. So I believe with that video, your eyes were even opened to other genres of music being negative. Thank you Lord Jesus.”
Good fortune. COMMENT! Please spread the meme. Don’t smoke in bed...