Is this for real?

April 9, 2006

If this story is true, it will make the US the worst of hypocrites.

I’m not going to weigh in on what — if anything — to do about Iran and their suspected nuclear weapons program. However, it strikes me as quintessentially hypocritical to use tactical nuclear weapons on a country to stop their nuclear weapons energy program… right?

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Hell’s Handmaiden vs. Intelligent Design

April 2, 2006

Intelligent Design proponents are propagandising via the Internet, and their blogs are truly a sight to behold. Their posts are sometimes so galling and perplexing that I literally sit agape at my computer as I read their takes on evolution and ID.

I am at times tempted to address their posts, but given the volume it seems like an insurmountable task. Hell’s Handmaiden nonetheless does a fantastic job of tearing them to logical shreds. Here’s a collection of recent posts and responses.

If the ID issue is of concern to you, Hell’s Handmaiden and the blogs he links to and discusses are valuable additions to your feed aggregator.


Chagnon on human-induced climate change

March 29, 2006

There was an interesting comment on my “Debunking Science with Handwaving and Bullshit” post by Chagnon, who is apparently an atmospheric scientist. I thought it deserved attention, so I’m reposting it here:

Rescuing Reason » Blog Archive » Debunking Science with Handwaving and Bullshit

If the “jury” were to consist of atmospheric and oceanic scientists, the verdict on human-influenced climate change would be a very nearly unanimous “guilty”, as one could easily determine through a search through the relevant scientific literature on the topic. The trial in which these jurists have been participating is one that demonstrates phyical evidence supported by simple theoretical expectations. A lovely compendium of the relevant “case law” is available on http://www.realclimate.net . Cutting edge research intended to assign better probabilities to prediction of climate change scenarios is being undertaken at http://www.climateprediction.net . If nonscientists, bloggers, and journalists should like to question the reality of global warming, then they are obliged to examine the scientific case and demonstrate the flaws therein. As an atmospheric scientist, I can admit that the problem is quite complex and challenging, but that careful and creative techniques are succeeding in reducing the uncertainty. To me, it appears that FoxNews and journalists like Steve Milloy have made up their minds without any consideration or appreciation of the science. There are still important debates to be had on the science, and notable skeptics such as Richard Lindzen should be heard, but in the context of a debate with equally prominent and knowledgable scientists. Journalists would do well to facilitate such a debate, in proper context, rather than editorialize on issues that they don’t understand.


Chimps found to be even more like humans

March 25, 2006

Say it with me — we may be special because we’re so smart, but we share a common ancestor with modern apes. 

But, no. That can’t be… we exclusively were created in god’s own image. We’re that special.

Chimps point to spot they’d like groomed | Science Blog

“The more we learn, the more we see chimpanzees employing remarkable, seemingly human-like behaviors,” Mitani said. “To me that is one of the lessons of this little paper.” The findings appear in today’s issue of Current Biology, in a paper entitled “Referential Gestural Communication in Wild Chimpanzees.”


New study finds atheists most distrusted American minority

March 25, 2006

I think it’s time, or nearly so, for me to truly ‘come out’ as an atheist. Certainly my friends and associates know this about me, but not all of my family does, and while it’s not something I’m ashamed of, it is certainly something I’m currently cautious about disclosing.

This study is a good indication of why I am cautious.

However, I feel a responsibility toward emerging atheists and existing atheists alike to declare myself publicly atheist, to show that atheists are not, in fact, all evil, self-centered, untrustworthy and unethical frauds. 

I shall continue to ponder this, though I think my decision will likely be in favor of this public declaration.

Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study : News Releases: UMNnews: U of M.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.

ADDENDUM: 2006-03-25 @ 14:20 CST – I just came across this quote from an interview with Dennett:

Well, by leading a meaningful life. As I look around the world, I see all sorts of heroes in every walk of life. But there is a prejudice against this because a lot of [atheists] are reluctant to point it [their lack of belief] out. Nobody wants to spend their life going around being the ‘village atheist.’ They’re much more interested in just leading a good and normal life.

So a lot of people, I find, are surprised to see me so candidly and cheerfully acknowledging my atheism. Not because they’re not atheists, but because they don’t go around mentioning it. I think that’s unfortunate.

The emphasis is mine. The article is here.

ADDITIONAL ADDENDUM: 2006-03-25 @ 14:24 – another perspective on religion and ethics:

Everyday science: Science, religion and the atomic bomb

“We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb… fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link.”

So they go on to claim that religion should oversee science.

But a bomb does no harm unless it is dropped on someone. So who made the decision to bomb the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not the scientists. Most of the scientists who knew about the bomb signed letters to President Truman asking that the bomb never be used, especially against civilians. But they had no say in the final decision.

<>Then who did decide to bomb cities full of women and children? Christians all:
President Harry S. Truman was a Baptist.
Secretary of state James F Byrnes was an Anglican/Episcopalian.
Secretary of War Henry Stimson was a Presbyterian.<>

So where was religion’s famous morality when these decisions were made? And where they now while our self-proclaimed Christian President George W. Bush wages a war in Iraq based on lies which kills civilians by the thousand?


A long rant on the South Dakota issue

March 22, 2006

Here’s a little taste (contains a lot of instances of the word “fuck”):

Fuck South Dakota

And yes, Senator Napoli is the same fucker who says that most abortions these days are for, no kidding, “convenience.” Because taking a pill or slapping on a piece of latex is way, way less convenient than spending your afternoon in stirrups while strangers poke at your private bits with hoses and forceps.

In addition to being full of profanity, it’s also very sarcastic:

Exactly where did these fuckers get the idea that people are getting abortions like it’s a walk in the park? “Oh shit, I got so wrapped up teaching my kids to be gay that I completely forgot to get my abortion! I sure hope they can murder this baby on Friday or it’s going to completely screw up my weekend.”


Ohio schools have ecome officially atheistic, godless, and toxic…

March 17, 2006

I don’t really have words for this. The Atheist Mama had a few though.

The Columbus Dispatch – Editorials

In December, I submitted a resolution to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, urging pastors and parents to investigate the indoctrination of our young people into the homosexual agenda and to encourage concerned Christian parents to remove their children from public schools.

At the heels of the recent 11-4 decision by the State Board of Education to censor any criticism of Darwinian evolution, it has become clear that our young people are being indoctrinated into not only a pro-homosexual, but a humanistic religion, as well. Ohio schools have become officially atheistic, godless and toxic, morally, intellectually and spiritually, to our precious children.