I tuned in to see tonight's (Thursday) scheduled Paula Zahn Now/CNN presentation concerning "an ostracized atheist family" only to find that they were filling the hour rehashing the seamy life and death of poor little rich girl Anna Nicole Smith.
PZ Myers @ Pharyngula reports that the segment WILL air TONIGHT, (Friday, 8 PM) with comments from Richard Dawkins, the World's Most Famous Atheist, and a panel that includes Christopher Hitchens, who apparently is still an atheist.
That's TONIGHT - Friday, 8 PM, Paula Zahn Now/CNN.
I am aware that the assumed instinctive belief in God has been used by many persons as an argument for his existence. The idea of a universal and beneficent Creator does not seem to arise in the mind of man, until he has been elevated by long-continued culture. [Charles Darwin]
But I own that I cannot see ... evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created that a cat should play with mice. [Charles Darwin]
If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week. [Charles Darwin]
DARWIN DAY, February 12:
CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN(1809-1882) British naturalist who revolutionized the study of biology with his theory of evolution based on natural selection.
On or around Charles Darwin's birth date, many will take part in a celebration of science and humanity, usually focusing on the marvelous contributions of this influential contributor to the advancement of science. To see if there is a Darwin celebration near you, go to: Darwin Day
The Second Annual Evolution Sunday will occur on February 11, 2007.
Evolution Sunday is being sponsored by The Clergy Letter Project, a collection of more than 10,400 members of the Christian clergy who have signed a letter asserting that Christianity and modern evolutionary science need not be at odds with one another. More info...
WHO ARE THE DODOS?!
(Photo: Muffy, the producer's Mom)
Randy Olson - biochemist turned film maker has produced and directed Flock of Dodos a humorous documentary take on the Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus over evolution in Kansas and elsewhere.
The film will be offered as part of special Darwin weekend events, hitting 31 screens from Boston to LA. Let’s see… Champaign, IL… Knoxville and Nashville, TN… I mention these ‘cuz it looks like they're the nearest venues to (purportedly purple) Ohio that will be presenting the movie this weekend. Oh, yes, it WILL be shown in Lawrence, KANSAS!
From most reports the film is funny. apparently it's effective, too. The ad agency behind the "Swift Boat" ads in the 2004 presidential election has been hired by The Discovery Institute, ID advocates. View the Trailer COROLLARY (of sorts) FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH
THE MYSTERY OF CONSCIOUSNESS By Steven Pinker - Friday, Jan. 19, 2007 The biology of consciousness is a sounder basis for morality than unprovable dogmas about God or an immortal soul. Time to get real...
The young woman had survived the car crash, after a fashion.
In the five months since parts of her brain had been crushed, she could open her eyes but didn't respond to sights, sounds or jabs. In the jargon of neurology, she was judged to be in a persistent vegetative state. In crueler everyday language, she was a vegetable.
So picture the astonishment of British and Belgian scientists as they scanned her brain using a kind of MRI that detects blood flow to active parts of the brain. When they recited sentences, the parts involved in language lit up. When they asked her to imagine visiting the rooms of her house, the parts involved in navigating space and recognizing places ramped up. And when they asked her to imagine playing tennis, the regions that trigger motion joined in. Indeed, her scans were barely different from those of healthy volunteers. The woman, it appears, had glimmerings of consciousness.
Try to comprehend what it is like to be that woman. Do you appreciate the words and caresses of your distraught family while racked with frustration at your inability to reassure them that they are getting through? Or do you drift in a haze, springing to life with a concrete thought when a voice prods you, only to slip back into blankness? If we could experience this existence, would we prefer it to death? And if these questions have answers, would they change our policies toward unresponsive patients--making the Terri Schiavo case look like child's play? Read the TIME Magazine article here
Vagina Monologues, Florida Style. By Massimo Pigliucci
This is the sort of small-minded bigotry that can ruin a good quarter of my day. There I was, exercising in my gym this morning, minding my own business, when I see a CNN segment on the latest idiocy started by someone who was “offended” by something she saw and had to start a revolution as a consequence.
The report says that a woman driving by the Atlantic Theater, somewhere in Florida, saw the marquis announcing the play “The Vagina Monologues” and got so upset that she called the manager of the establishment and ask him to take the offensive word off public view. When asked why she was so upset about it, the pious idiot said that she was driving with her niece, and was embarrassed when the girl asked her “what's a vagina?”
The management of the theater, of course, immediately obliged and changed the title of the play (presumably without asking the author or the company performing it) to the witless “The Hoohaa Monologues.” ... Continue here
(A hoohaa?! One commenter says, "A hoohaa is what you use to make whoopie!")
Alcohol and calculus don't mix -don't drink and derive!
DILBERT'S A FILBERT
Scot Adams may THINK he's an intelligent designer. He composes funny, intelligent comix, but he's in over his head - or he's trying too hard not to offend the nut-fundie adherents to the Creation Fable. Scot doesn't take criticism well, which leaves him with more than a few pissed off fans.
At any rate, the fundangelicals probably never read him anyway... Here's some humorous image doctoring @ Bronze Blog
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DARWIN'S "DEATHBED CONVERSION" - NOT!!
PZ Myers, blogging @ Pharyngula has declared aging goody-two-white-bucks crooner Pat Boone A MORON!
The article remains, but the most ludicrous paragraph has been excised, probably by one o' the WingNut editors. In the now-removed passage, Brother Boone related the hoary fable of Darwin's "Death Bed Conversion". It's worth a look to see what passes for science writing @ WingNutDaily: ...
But in a fascinating book, John Myers' "Voices from the Edge of Eternity," we find the detailed personal account of Lady Hope, of Northfield, England, who visited the aging scientist often at his bedside during his last days. It's too long to recount well here, but she tells of the Bible he was reading constantly and of the worship services that took place regularly in the summerhouse in his garden. She says that when she brought up the controversy still raging between believers in the Genesis account of creation and the growing group of scientists and teachers dismissing that account in favor of his "The Origin of Species" and related theories, he seemed distressed. And "a look of agony came over his face as he said 'I was a young man with unformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time about everything. To my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion of them.'"
PZ writes, "Lady Hope was a good evangelical Christian—that is, she was a shameless liar, fraud, and fool. I can see where Pat Boone might feel some affinity for her dishonest propaganda..."
PZ also notes the Wing Nut Daily site also offers "Chuck Norris weighing in on the appropriate qualifications for the presidency. Now if he'd said, "the ability to kick someone in the face while they're standing in front of you," I'd have this pegged as a humor piece. But noooo. His requirements that our president be "wise" and a "good Christian", pedestrian and merely brainless ideas." Good fortune. COMMENT! Please spread the meme. Don't smoke in bed...
"Knowledge is often mistaken for intelligence. This is like mistaking a cup of milk for a cow." [Anon]
"If you wish to convince people of something, it is more useful to be entertaining than to be right." [Anon]
"Change is inevitable; progress is optional." [Proverb]
"A man said to the Universe, 'Sir, I exist!' 'However,' replied the Universe, The fact has not aroused in me a sense of obligation.' " [Steven Crane]
"My answer to the question, 'What person, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?' - changes from time to time - but Anonymous remains at the top of the list." [Rev. Art]
ARTICLE FEDERAL WAY, WA SCHOOLS RESTRICT GORE FILM By Robert McClure and Lisa Stiffler The Seattle Post Intelligencer Thursday 11 January 2007
"Inconvenient Truth" called too controversial.
This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert "An Inconvenient Truth."
After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a PowerPoint presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists' findings.
"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is.... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD." Hardison's e-mail to the School Board prompted board member David Larson to propose the moratorium Tuesday night. (MORE Frosty Hardison "logic" in "FALLACIOUS ASSAULTS"...)
"Somebody could say you're killing free speech, and my retort to them would be we're encouraging free speech," said Larson, a lawyer. "The beauty of our society is we allow debate."
School Board members adopted a three-point policy that says teachers who want to show the movie must ensure that a "credible, legitimate opposing view will be presented," that they must get the OK of the principal and the superintendent, and that any teachers who have shown the film must now present an "opposing view."
The requirement to represent another side follows district policy to represent both sides of a controversial issue, board President Ed Barney said.
"What is purported in this movie is, 'This is what is happening. Period. That is fact,'" Barney said.
Students should hear the perspective of global-warming skeptics and then make up their minds, he said. After they do, "if they think driving around in cars is going to kill us all, that's fine, that's their choice."
Asked whether an alternative explanation for evolution should be presented by teachers, Barney said it would be appropriate to tell students that other beliefs exist. "It's only a theory," he said.
While the question of climate change has provoked intense argument in political circles in recent years, among scientists its basic tenets have become the subject of an increasingly stronger consensus.
"In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations," states a 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which advises policymakers.
"Furthermore, it is very likely that the 20th-century warming has contributed significantly to the observed sea level rise, through thermal expansion of seawater and widespread loss of land ice."
The basics of that position are backed by the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences.
Laurie David, a co-producer of the movie, said that this is the first incident of its kind relating to the film. "I am shocked that a school district would come to this decision," David said in a prepared statement. "There is no opposing view to science, which is fact, and the facts are clear that global warming is here, now."
The Federal Way incident started when Hardison learned that his daughter would see the movie in class. He objected. Hardison and his wife, Gayla, said they would prefer that the movie not be shown at all in schools. "From what I've seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of 'bad America, bad America,' I don't think it should be shown at all," Gayle Hardison said. "If you're going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don't think the video should be shown."
Scientists say that Americans, with about 5 percent of the world's population, emit about 25 percent of the globe-warming gases.
Larson, the School Board member, said a pre-existing policy should have alerted teachers and principals that the movie must be counterbalanced. The policy, titled "Controversial Issues, Teaching of," says in part, "It is the teacher's responsibility to present controversial issues that are free from prejudice and encourage students to form, hold and express their own opinions without personal prejudice or discrimination. The principal reason for that is to make sure that the public schools are not used for indoctrination," Larson said.
Students contacted Wednesday said they favor allowing the movie to be shown. "I think that a movie like that is a really great way to open people's eyes up about what you can do and what you are doing to the planet and how that's going to affect the human race," said Kenna Patrick, a senior at Jefferson High School. When it comes to the idea of presenting global warming skeptics, Patrick wasn't sure how necessary that would be. She hadn't seen the movie but had read about it and would like to see it. "Watching a movie doesn't mean that you have to believe everything you see in it," she said.
Joan Patrick, Kenna's mother, thought it would be a good idea for students to see the movie. They are the ones who will be dealing with the effects of a warmer planet. "It's their job," she said. "They're the next generation."
(Your editor has yet to see the film in question. We plan to view it in our living room theater in Metro Fairborn, Ohio, in the next few weeks and we'll give you a full report...)
Darlene Bishop, a tele-evangelist with a nationwide following, does not do things by half. When she and her husband Lawrence erected a statue of Jesus on the grounds of their mega church in Monroe, Ohio, they made it 62 feet high. No less gargantuan are her claims about the power of prayer to overcome illness.Through a series of sermons, books and a television show, "Sisters", broadcast on religious satellite channels throughout the US and abroad, she preaches that God has the power to heal even the most deadly diseases, including cancer.
But the contention is now the subject of a court action. Four of Mrs Bishop's relatives are suing her over her claim that God cured their father - her brother - of throat cancer. He died of the disease 18 months ago. In her book Your Life Follows Your Words, Mrs Bishop tells how she overcame her breast cancer through prayer, and how her brother was also cured. There is no mention of his death in the book, which she says is due to the fact that it was published at a time when he had been in remission for more than a year. But the volume is still on sale through her website (price $15) under the blurb: "How God healed her of breast cancer and her brother healed from throat cancer".
Mrs Bishop's brother, Darrell "Wayne" Perry, was an accomplished songwriter whose work has been performed by big names in country music such as Tim McGraw, and by the Backstreet Boys. For a year before his death in May 2005, aged 55, he was cared for by his sister.
His children, Bryan, Justin, Olivia and Christian, have issued a lawsuit for wrongful death against Mrs Bishop because they claim she persuaded Perry to stop chemotherapy and rely instead on God's healing. They contend in legal depositions that at the moment Mrs Bishop and her brother were touring the country preaching about the miracle of his recovery, they were both aware that he had been advised by doctors that his illness was terminal.
In a separate legal action to be heard on Friday they also accuse Mrs Bishop of probate irregularities and of mishandling her brother's estate. "I am the oldest son of Wayne Perry", Bryan has written, "and I think it's a damn shame that we have to spend our money fighting our aunt."
In her blog, Mrs Bishop dismisses the allegations as "complete lies", insisting she would never tell anyone to refuse medical help. "I encouraged him to listen to the doctors, but he refused surgery."
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE "AGNOSTIC" ON THE AGE OF THE GRAND CANYON Tuesday, January 02, 2007
A new press release by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibilities (clearly an anti-Christian, pinko-communist organization) has again brought public attention to the peculiar fact that rangers at the Grand Canyon national park are officially prohibited (by the Bush administration, that bastion of scholarship and high cultural standards) from publicly answering the simplest question about the Canyon: how old is it? That's because the correct answer (between 1.2 and 5.3 million years, the latter being the date when the Colorado River changed course and began the erosion process) is unpalatable to Biblical fundamentalists.
Moreover, the Park in recent years has approved only one new item for sale in its bookstore: a creationist pamphlet sputtering nonsense about a worldwide flood that allegedly happened a few thousand years ago. As if that were not enough, the Bush administration has also suppressed a previously existing Park policy that directed the interpretive staff to make distinctions between religion and science when speaking to the public, without endorsing any specific religious doctrine (such as the geologically absurd idea of a few-thousand years old worldwide flood creating the Canyon).
A geologist commented on the controversy by saying that “This is the equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled 'Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan.'” (Massimo: "Hey, I've been at Yellowstone to see Old Faithful, and now that you mentioned it, that strong smell of sulfur...")
LACK OF EDUCATION CAN KILL YOU; EXTRA EDUCATION LENGTHENS YOUR LIFE Friday, January 05, 2007 At least, that's the finding of several studies reported by the BBC and the New York Times. According to the BBC, a disturbing 27% of people in Britain are convinced that the likelihood of them becoming affected by a major sickness is a function of “fate,” not of how they manage their life style. Predictably, among smokers the percentage goes up to 50, an obvious example of denial in action (I know first hand, since my father died of smoke-related cancer a few years ago, and often blamed his bad luck because, you know, there are people who smoke into their 90s and are fine). Interestingly, people with high income (and, presumably, better education) are less likely to blame fate (14%), while people of low income are much more likely to do so (43%).
The article in the New York Times reported several findings over the last few years suggesting that the single most important statistical predictor (and, more controversially, causal factor) of longevity across the globe is education. One study at Columbia University used historical records from the United States to track the effect of increases in the number of compulsory years of schooling in different States through time: on average, an additional year in school was equivalent to an additional 18 months of life span. Not bad, even if you have to endure a bit more calculus and English lit.
Education is statistically more important than any other single factor, including – rather surprisingly – race and socio-economic status, and the results have been confirmed in several other countries around the planet. The most intriguing suggestion made so far to explain the effect is that it has to do with people's ability to forgo immediate pleasure for future gain, rather than with simple knowledge of health matters. For example, in the United States pretty much everyone, regardless of race and wealth, is by now aware that smoking has deleterious health effects, and yet the rate of smoking is much higher among low-income people. It is certainly intriguing that at least one federally funded research study showed that among middle-aged people, less education is in fact directly related to difficulty in thinking ahead.
So, Aristotle was right, after all: it is the educated person who is most capable of steering her behavior toward the golden mean (away from excesses) and to overcome humanity's inherent problem of akrasia (weakness of the will). Rather than “seizing the day,” it is much healthier to think ahead and go to the gym.
REVIEW A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF SCIENCE: Miners, Midwives, and "Low Mechaniks" (Paperback) by Clifford D. Conner (A Marxist View of Science...)
PC Baloney, August 29, 2006 Reviewer: Donald B. Siano (Westfield, NJ USA)
Clifford D. Conner has a viewpoint on the history of science that is downright wrong. His thesis is that there is "a much, much greater contribution to the production and propagation of scientific knowledge on the part of anonymous masses of humble people--the common people--than is generally recognized or acknowledged." That Newton didn't sit on the shoulder of giants, but rather "stood on the backs of untold thousands of illiterate artisans." To arrive at this rather startling picture, he starts by defining science extremely broadly as "knowledge of nature and the associated knowledge-producing activities."
About the first half of the book is about the pre-scientific revolution, and covers in detail all of the "scientific knowledge" attained by hunter-gatherers, early agriculturalists, polynesian navigators, that Sub-Saharan rulers of Egypt, the polynesian navigators, and so on. No doubt these people acquired much "knowledge of nature" and therefore had among them anonymous, illiterate masses of scientists, he argues.
One problem here is that he uses "science" in a way that makes his case so obvious it borders on the tautological. Most people today when the refer to "science" means something scientists do: it involves systematic collection of data, measurements and quantification, tables, charts, graphs, equations, models, laws, and generalizations; controlled experiments and observations with complex scientific instruments; and publications in peer reviewed scientific journals. It is done by known, highly educated individuals, who publish their results--an elite.
What he is really trying to do, he freely admits, is to show that the great elite heroes of science, like Newton and Galileo, were actually not so great. Did you know, he winks, that Boyle, who supposedly discovered Boyle's Law, actually had a technician! And that Henry the Navigator was not only not a navigator, he rarely set foot on a ship! Gee, even Tycho Brahe's observatory was actually built by artisans and craftsmen, now lost to history!
Then we get down to Conner's real problem: his account of the scientific revolution reveals that the elite "great" men are not only men, but they are white Western men! And therefore they are not only sexist, they are racists to boot. And not only that, the exist as at the peak of a hierarchy who exploit the real producers of progress for their own, dubious glory. And not only that, much of the science they produce makes for a society that is unequal, destructive, and even pollutes the environment.
This is just so much boring, politically correct, baloney, told mostly in a sophomoric impenetrable "academic" style so turgid only dead Marxists could appreciate it. Pass it by.
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From Pharyngula: Frosty Hardison, a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the Al Gore film, "An Inconvenient Truth" to the Federal Way School Board in a suburb of Seattle...
It's people like Al Gore, in both the Democratic and Republican parties and any other person on earth (no matter their political affiliation) that continue supporting the liberal biased politicians and judges legislating from the bench - that endorse gay marriage, kick Jesus Christ out of public schools and say Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas - that are speeding the curse and effect along. (did you see the play on words there? Cause and effect — curse and effect?)
The thing people should really be on the watch for instead of global warming, is a red celestial body (comet or asteroid) that will appear as a cross in the sky. That event will happen long before global warming makes a serious and noticeable impact into the lives of people on earth. People en mass do not want to hear of such things though, as they do not wish to be held accountable for the things they do here.
I present this potential solution: One way this WORLD could make a dent in what has already transpired, would be to build several huge nuclear power plants in the polar regions and install several freezer coils at the edges of the polar glaciers to begin expanding the size of the ice and begin making more ice. What are the odds of that happening? There is your "INCONVENIENT TRUTH".
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Good fortune. COMMENT!! Please spread the meme. Don't smoke in bed...