While I was surfing around for info on the last post, I came across this video which I think sums up the Haeckel's embryo canard really well.
Less than 3 minutes long.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Intelligent Design Trumps Darwin One of my favorite early Steve Martin routines went something like this: "Would you like to make a million dollars, and pay no taxes? OK. First, make a million dollars. Now, just don't pay any taxes; and if somebody from the IRS asks you about it, just say, ‘I forgot!' " Close enough. Darwin's theory of evolution. Say it ain't so Pat! It's a theory, an extremely farfetched, unproven theory, and — at its base, its fundamental core — terribly unscientific! Pat has yet to show us how he knows what is scientific and what isn't, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Via Joe Meert over at Science, Anti-science and Geology
I don't particularly want to keep writing about creationism. But creationists just keep saying such stupid things, they beg for a response. In this case, it is Pat Boone. Yes, that Pat Boone. You know, the one who is an authority on science and theology.
Pat lays out for us why Evolution is a failed science, and Intelligent Design is the mustard on your wiener (that's a metaphor).
So here's the poo:
Nonsense? Sure. But funny, especially as Steve delivered it. But there's some absurd nonsense, not especially funny, being taught our school kids every day, in almost every school in America.
To me (and I'll explain, so stay with me) this theory is exactly like Steve Martin's joke.But without the gesticulating.
It starts with a wish, a desire, proceeds through a ludicrous construction or process, and leads to a preposterous conclusion.Add in a burning bush and a 3=1 proposition, and I heartily agree. Oh...what were we talking about?
One of my favorite early Steve Martin routines went something like this: "Would you like to make a million dollars, and pay no taxes? OK. First, make a million dollars. Now, just don't pay any taxes; and if somebody from the IRS asks you about it, just say, ‘I forgot!' "
Darwin's theory of evolution.
Say it ain't so Pat!
It's a theory, an extremely farfetched, unproven theory,
and — at its base, its fundamental core — terribly unscientific!
Pat has yet to show us how he knows what is scientific and what isn't, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Can you say, "run-on sentence?" Is anyone editing this putz? ID is a "Vastly more plausible notion?" If you find "magic" to be vastly more plausible I suppose. Beyond that, all I can say is "Argument from Incredulity."
If a teacher dares to suggest or present the alternative theory of intelligent design, the vastly more plausible notion that this incredible universe and all living things point logically to a creator with an intelligence far beyond our feeble comprehension (no matter how many Ph.D. degrees we might have among us), lawsuits and intimidation will surely follow that teacher.
In one of his many excellent and substantive mailings, D. James Kennedy drew my attention to Tom DeRosa,
Anecdotal evidence alert!
who grew up Catholic in Brooklyn and spent his high school years at a Catholic seminary.
He was voted "Best Seminarian" in 1964, but one year later, instead of taking vows to enter the priesthood, he became an atheist.
His encounter with Darwin in college led to that decision. "There was a point where I became so rebellious that I yelled out ‘No God!' I remember saying ‘I'm free, I'm liberated,'" DeRosa recalled. "I can do what I want to do; man is in charge! It was pure, exhilarating rebellion!"
That rebellion soured after a while,
Like an Iraqi quagmire (that's a simile).
and after 13 years as a respected public school science teacher, he experienced a spiritual awakening that completely changed his perception of existence — and science.
Sounds like a flip-flopper. Couldn't get elected.
He's now founder and president of the Creation Studies Institute and author of "Evidence for Creation: Intelligent Answers for Open Minds."
Did his IQ leak out his ears?
Did he cease being a scientist?
Was he ever a scientist? As a school science teacher he probably had much better than a "lay" expertise in science, but does that make him a scientist?
Far from it; he became a real scientist, an honest seeker after truth who could look at facts without a predisposed belief and actually see the obvious all around us.
Yeah, that Catholic upbringing couldn't have given him any biases.
As a real scientist, he looked again at what he'd gullibly accepted in college. And, examining the prevalent claim that life "evolved" from molecule to man by a series of biological baby steps, tiny mutations over millions of years, he realized there is no historical evidence for that claim.
He writes, "Millions upon millions of fossils have been collected to date, but there is no evidence of transition fossils; that is, fossils of organisms in an intermediate stage of development between steps on the evolutionary ladder."
In one sense, all fossils are "transitional fossils." Even with supposedly "pre-historic" animals like the coelecanth, there are structural differences between the modern and the ancient. But what exactly does he want? A Liger?
Wouldn't there be plenty of evolving apes, tending toward homo sapiens, in the jungles and rain forests, possibly developing verbal skills and capable of elementary math and reasoning?
"Tending towards homo sapiens...." nothing anthropocentric here. As far as reasoning goes, what makes Pat so sure he is competent at it? Chimps, Bonobos, and Gorillas even Baboons arguably do all those things, by the way.
Apes have always been apes, and humans always human (though some of us less so than others).
I'll give him an "Amen" to that last part anyway.
If humans want to prove some theory, no matter how farfetched and self-serving, they will inevitably find some "evidence" that they can wedge into their theory.
Wow. Science actually modifies or even discards it's "theories" if they don't accommodate the evidence, what he is talking about sounds more like religious dogma.
Some years ago, Johnny Carson had a lady on his "Tonight Show" who had a large collection of potato chips, each of which she said resembled some famous person. And if you looked at the chip from a certain angle, and maybe squinted just right, you could see what she was referring to.
Long time readers of Tainted Ideals will know the phenomenon to which he refers is called Pareidolia.
This decades-long scavenger hunt, in which intelligent and educated seekers keep digging up artifacts to "prove" an un-provable and patently unscientific concept, is very much like the potato chip lady on the "Tonight Show": You see what you want to see. Whether it's there or not.Science has checks and balances that make it unlikely that scientists only "see what you want to see. Whether it's there or not." Religion, unfortunately, does not. And don't even start me on "un-provable:" is there anything that screams "I'm scientifically illiterate!" more than someone talking about "proving" a theory?
I'm grateful to Chris Ruddy and the editors here at NewsMax for letting me take this space each week. This topic, I feel, is so important — and I've got so much to say about it — that I'll pick up here, in this space, next week. I hope you'll stop by.
What a jerk. He knows his idiocy will just suck me right back in to this "field of delusions."
As in, "where do you draw the line."
I think of myself as a rafter. I like the big rubber doughnut. I like going downstream, so I am not a jet-boater. I like being at least nominally comfortable, so I am not a kayaker. In some ways (very few) I am a social animal, so I am not a catarafter. I like being able to put my boat in the back of my truck, so I am not a drift-boater. I like having at least nominal control of my craft, so I am not a tuber.
All these modes of river transport require a certain level of skill, and all are appropriate for different kinds of rivers (with a lot of overlap). Tubers can only "boat" relatively mild rivers. All the other craft can boat large but challenging rivers. Driftboats and jetboats cannot navigate smaller rockier rivers. Small catarafts and rafts can be maneuvered down very narrow, steep rivers if they are paddled. Kayaks are the most flexible as far as type of rivers they can run.
Driftboats probably require the most "skill." Tubers the least.
So what craft you prefer mainly comes down to a matter of taste.
And that brings us to the "creaturecraft."
Definitely not my taste. In one sense, very safe: tons of flotation, very difficult to flip, and if it does, it almost self-rights. In another sense, very dangerous: you seatbelt yourself in, you are very exposed to rocks and logs from the side.
But my biggest problem with this type of craft is that it allows people without a lot of skill to boat relatively dangerous water, without "paying their dues."
They seem to be flirting with disaster. Perhaps they have an appetite for destruction. In any case, without having first learned from mistakes on relatively safe rivers, these craft can put people into situations for which they have no expertise. This kind of craft won't help you with mid-stream logs, with strainers, with "frowning" holes.
A large problem for these craft also seems to be that they aren't very maneuverable. I see in these videos paddlers doing a lot of paddling, but not much happening. Fortunately at least in these instances, they don't need to maneuver. In one sense, I suppose that is one of it's strengths: you don't have to maneuver in most situations. Who cares if you're sideways?
I suppose driftboaters can say the same sorts of things about rafters though, it is just a matter of degree. But my line is already drawn.
If you want to see more "extreme" creaturecrafting(?), check out the "eyecandy" vids on their site.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Waxman seeks climate inquiry evidence
I sometimes wish I lived in California. Usually not for long. But this guy Henry Waxman, is chairman of the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Yes he is a democrat, but dang if he isn't my kind of guy: a staunch advocate of both science and government transparency.
Getting stonewalled by the most anti-science, secretive administration in the history of the U.S.
A true American hero. Representing California. Who would have thought?
I on the other hand am represented by Dick Hastings: the guy who originally won his seat back in the 1980's on the platform of "term limits." Apparently, those limits weren't well defined.
But I digress.
From the article:
Administration officials were not scheduled to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In the past the White House has said it has only sought to inject balance into reports on climate change.Ah yes, "balance." Since the science doesn't support your ideological bias, you have to "balance" the science with.... non-science? Rhetoric? Misdirection?
Two private advocacy groups, meanwhile, presented to the panel a survey of government climate scientists showing that many of them say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.And this is the administration that wants to have more control over government agencies.
The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning. Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report.
According to a New York Times article by Robert Pear (subscription needed), President Bush has issued a directive that further codifies the politicization of science that has been the hallmark of his administration.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 — President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.
Good thing he's on our side....
In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.Because we are all familiar with the competence of his political appointees. Every agency needs that kind of expertise.
This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats.Yeah political appointees are generally better qualified than civil servants or scientists who have devoted a large part of their lives to the subject.
The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency.No, it was meant to reign in all agencies, and further consolidate power towards the executive branch.
In an interview on Monday, Jeffrey A. Rosen, general counsel at the White House Office of Management and Budget, said, “This is a classic good-government measure that will make federal agencies more open and accountable.”Accountable to the White House. And we know how "transparent" they've been.
The directive issued by Mr. Bush says that, in deciding whether to issue regulations, federal agencies must identify “the specific market failure” or problem that justifies government intervention.Hopefully, "specific market failure" is well defined. But I won't hold my breath. These will be the "weasel words" that will bog down the process making any regulation cumbersome to the extreme.
Besides placing political appointees in charge of rule making, Mr. Bush said agencies must give the White House an opportunity to review “any significant guidance documents” before they are issued.Speaks for itself.
Peter L. Strauss, a professor at Columbia Law School, said the executive order “achieves a major increase in White House control over domestic government.”“Having lost control of Congress,” Mr. Strauss said, “the president is doing what he can to increase his control of the executive branch.”What would he know?
Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said: “The executive order allows the political staff at the White House to dictate decisions on health and safety issues, even if the government’s own impartial experts disagree. This is a terrible way to govern, but great news for special interests.”Terrible way to govern....So what exactly will be different?
Business groups hailed the initiative.While their job is paying attention to the cost imposed on U.S. citizens and resources by not regulating.
“This is the most serious attempt by any chief executive to get control over the regulatory process, which spews out thousands of regulations a year,” said William L. Kovacs, a vice president of the United States Chamber of Commerce. “Because of the executive order, regulations will be less onerous and more reasonable. Federal officials will have to pay more attention to the costs imposed on business, state and local governments, and society.”
The executive order was issued as White House aides were preparing for a battle over the nomination of Susan E. Dudley to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.The "Bolton Gambit!"
President Bush first nominated Ms. Dudley last August. The nomination died in the Senate, under a barrage of criticism from environmental and consumer groups, which said she had been hostile to government regulation. Mr. Bush nominated her again on Jan. 9.
With Democrats in control, the Senate appears unlikely to confirm Ms. Dudley. But under the Constitution, the president could appoint her while the Senate is in recess, allowing her to serve through next year.
Some of Ms. Dudley’s views are reflected in the executive order. In a primer on regulation written in 2005, while she was at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University in Northern Virginia, Ms. Dudley said that government regulation was generally not warranted “in the absence of a significant market failure.”I wonder how many people need to die to constitute a "significant" market failure?
Posted by dogscratcher at 9:50 AM
Monday, January 29, 2007
"I'm definitely in better shape than I get credit for. Just because I have large bosoms and I have a big ass. I swear my waist is 29-30 inches. I swear I have the smallest waist. And just because I have those two 'assets' it looks like I'm not fit. I was just in the locker room staring at my body and I'm like, 'Am I not fit? Am I really not fit? Or is it just because I have all these extra assets that I look not fit.' I think if I were not to eat for two years I still wouldn't be a size 2. No matter how slim I am, I always have this [points] and that [points]. We're living in a Mary-Kate Olsen world. I'm just not built that way. I'm bootylicious and that's how it's always going to be."I for one am a fan of good tennis. In the past, I didn't feel that Serena played "good" tennis. By which I mean "non-sloppy." By which I mean, even on a good day, she typically made a lot of "unforced errors." In other words, she missed for no good reason.
This, in my opinion, was a big "knock" against all recent women's pro tennis: the error to winner ratio even amongst the winners was typically not very good. You could expect someone like Lindsay Davenport or Maria Sharapova to hit a lot of winners, but they also typically made an equal or greater number of unforced errors. Even when winning. Serena was the same way. Until now.
In the final match with Maria Sharapova, Serena hit 28 winners, and made 11 unforced errors. That is a very good ratio, though the score (6-1, 6-2) was a blowout. Even in the very close match with Nicole Vaidisova in the the semis (7-6, 6-4), Serena's winners comfortably outstripped her errors (23-15).
Compare that to Sharapova's semifinal win over Kim Clijsters, which Sharapova won routinely (6-4, 6-2). In that match, Sharapova ended up with 27 winners (a great number), but 33 unforced errors. In a match she won!
What has changed for Serena? Certainly she is healthier (uninjured), but she definitely isn't skinnier. In my opinion, the only substantive change for her is her racquet.
Serena used to use a very stiff racquet. This allowed her to hit the ball harder with less effort, but it also made her lose control. So she would typically hit more winners, but would make a lot more errors too.
Recently, she has switched racquets to something more flexible. It is a prototype (note the lack of graphics on the racquet in the picture), so I can't get all the specifications yet, but it is definitely not the behemoth she used to use.
So now, she doesn't make all the errors she used to. She may not hit as many winners, but as she illustrated at the Australian Open, she really doesn't have to: the other gals are more than willing to make the errors for her.
So should the other women on the tour switch to more flexible racquets? Probably not. The other women simply aren't as strong as Serena.
Bottom line, if she can stay healthy, with this new racquet, Serena is poised to make a sea-change in the way women's professional tennis is played. In my opinion, a change for the better.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Microwave experiments cause sponge disasters - Yahoo! News
This seems to be an example of some scientists publishing a paper, then the media interpreting the paper and leaving out one really important aspect.
Typically in my experience, this results in the conclusions of the paper being completely different than what is reported. In this instance, it has apparently resulted in several small home fires. Not because they got the conclusions wrong, but because what was implicit in the methodology, needed to be made explicit for us schlubs.
I can't in this case blame the reporter, or the scientists. The scientists wrote their report for other scientists, not for the laity, and the safety aspects weren't obvious to either they or the reporter. Oops.
The paper can be found here, published in The Journal of Environmental Health (pdf).
What seems to have happened is Reuters reported that microwaving your kitchen sponges kills the germs in the sponge much more effectively than putting them through the dish-washer. All you do is microwave the sponge on high for two minutes.
Reuters forgot to mention the sponge needs to be wet. Otherwise it catches on fire. This was not mentioned in the paper: they didn't microwave dry sponges, only sponges that had been soaked in sewage.
It just goes to show you, you really need to carefully operationalize your terms.
Posted by sparky at 9:47 AM
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Kerry Emanuel: Phaeton's Reins
This is a very impressive article by one of the nation's top atmospheric scientists that really lays out well the argument for Anthropogenic Global Warming. It is simple enough that even I could understand it. Mind you it has a conspicuous dearth of pictures and only one graph, so it won't be like reading a comic book, but I was surprised by how quickly I got through it.
One thing stuck out at me especially in light of the recent dust-up over creationism and the Grand Canyon, which I think lays out some of the true ideals of science:
Science proceeds by continually testing and discarding or refining hypotheses, a process greatly aided by the naturally skeptical disposition of scientists. We are, most of us, driven by a passion to understand nature, but that means being dispassionate about pet ideas. Partisanship—whatever its source—is likely to be detected by our colleagues and to yield a loss of credibility, the true stock of the trade. We share a faith—justified by experience—that at the end of the day, there is a truth to be found, and those who cling for emotional reasons to wrong ideas will be judged by history accordingly, whereas those who see it early will be regarded as visionaries.I would just change, "We share a faith—justified by experience," to "We share a faith--justified by empirically verified reality." But only because "empirically verified reality" is my current "term of the day."
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Good Math, Bad Math : Basics: Margin of Error
Over at the ScienceBlogs collective, many of the bloggers are posting about "basic" concepts or ambiguities in their represented fields. MarkCC at Good Math, Bad Math has taken on the concept of "margin of error."
This is a statistical concept that allows you to determine by how much a statistic (say a poll number) is likely to be "off." Mark gives a very detailed explanation of this concept, for which I have nothing to add. I especially like, and find useful, his point that often when polls are reported in the news they often don't mention the margin of error, but even when they do, they don't tell you the "confidence interval."
But that is beside the point. And there is one. My point being that people, in my experience, often conflate the two concepts "margin of error" and "margin for error." While "margin of error" is a very rigorously defined quantity, "margin for error" is a description of the "slop" built into a process or specified event to increase the probability of success of that event.
In sports, athletes are said to give themselves a "high margin for error" when they play a relatively "safe" game that is unlikely to produce mistakes. Those who play a risky style are said to have a "low margin for error."
In tennis for instance, players who aim their shots for the sidelines are said have a low margin for error, whereas players who aim their shots more towards the middle of the court where they are less likely to miss, are said to have a high margin for error.
The best definition I've found for "margin for error" is here:
An allowance built into a system or process that provides for continued operation or a successful outcome even with less-than-perfect results.Maybe it is just me, but I find it confusing (perhaps because I'm easily confused) when people use the two terms interchangeably. Just saying.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Sparky wanted to get some driftwood for our aquarium, so we drove out to Lyons Ferry Park on the Snake River. My hypothesis being that since the park is basically at the mouth of the Palouse River, and the Palouse river is undammed, there would be some good wood coming into the Snake at that point.
My hypothesis was confirmed, though we didn't have time to try to falsify it by searching the bank upstream of the Palouse.
This was a huge railroad bridge that spanned the Snake: too big for one photo
This is the auto bridge that replaced the Ferry.
Here is Sparky getting some wood and a complimentary shower from the BBD.
Note the advanced photographical technique: the dog's head is in focus but everything else is fuzzy. And no, I don't know how it happened.
This was our final haul of driftwood, and the obligatory bag of tennis balls.
Posted by dogscratcher at 9:00 PM
Saturday, January 20, 2007
A decade for 'Dr. Dino' | Local News | PensacolaNewsJournal.com
Florida creationist Kent Hovind was sentenced to ten years in federal prison on January 19th for many counts(58) of tax evasion. I can't help piling on.
Before his sentencing, a tearful Kent Hovind compared his situation to that of the lion and the mouse in Aesop's Fables.Apparently it wasn't "his" decision to not pay taxes that can destroy his life, it is the judge's.
"I feel like the mouse," Hovind told U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers. "I stand here in great fear of the power of this court. Your decision can destroy my life, my ministry and my grandchildren."
Hovind's courtroom comments were in stark contrast to more-combative statements he made in recent telephone calls from Escambia County Jail.That would persuade me to be lenient.
In a recording of one of the telephone conversations played in court Friday, Hovind said the Internal Revenue Service, presiding judge and prosecutor broke the law by going after him, and there were things he could do "to make their lives miserable."
Comparing himself to a buffalo in a lion fight, Hovind's voice was heard saying "As long as I have some horns, I'm going to swing. As long as I have some hoofs, I'm going to kick. As long as I have some teeth, I'm going to fight. The lion's going to know he's been in a fight."Soon, he'll be saying, "As long as I have some salad, I'm going to toss it!"
Kent Hovind, owner of Creation Science Evangelism and Dinosaur Adventure Land on North Palafox Street in Pensacola, has maintained he owes no taxes because everything he owns belongs to God.Is "God" the title holder of his car? Who signs that title when it comes time to sell?
Several people testified on Kent Hovind's behalf and described him as a man of honesty and integrity whose beliefs are sincere.I'd look into auditing those people, or at least getting them a complimentary mental-competency exam.
The funny part about this is that it is not the counter-factual, some may even say "fraudulent" nature and content of "Dinosaur Adventure Land" that has landed Hovind in the big-house. If he had simply paid his taxes, he would today be free to continue peddling his goofy set of beliefs to suckers everywhere.
As it is, while Hovind may come out of prison having learned to play a rusty trombone, I doubt he will have learned that most salient of biblical truisms, which of course is:
Matthew 22:21 (KJV) "They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."
Posted by dogscratcher at 10:22 AM
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Via Ranger X we find that PEER has issued a new press release. Does this press release deal with the issue of their apparently false allegation that Grand Canyon National Park interpretive staff aren't allowed to discuss the age of the canyon?
No, it doesn't.
PEER has already pissed off a lot of folk: pretty much everyone who reported their allegation. Phil Plait over at "Bad Astronomy" is fed up, as is Michael Shermer of Skeptic.com.
Despite alienating many people in the scientific community, they continue to try to refocus attention on the Vail book, instead of addressing their own misleading statement.
This is the way you lose respect and credibility. Who can afford to take them at their word now?
Posted by dogscratcher at 5:51 AM
Monday, January 15, 2007
Dinosaurs, humans coexist in U.S. creation museum - Yahoo! News
Big news from some well funded creationists in Kentucky: they're opening a museum that won't be quite as "hokey" as some.
Museum spokesman and vice-president Mark Looy has a keen sense of Public Relations and notes, "Mocking publicity is free publicity."
Well, I guess I'm going to give them some free publicity.
"I think we'll be surprised at how many people come," (Ken)Ham saidWe can only hope.
The $27 million project, which also includes a planetarium, a special-effects theater, nature trails and a small lake, is privately funded by people who believe the Bible's first book, Genesis, is literally true.That's creepy.
For them, a museum showing Christian schoolchildren and skeptics alike how the earth, animals, dinosaurs and humans were created in a six-day period about 6,000 years ago -- not over millions of years, as evolutionary science says -- is long overdue.I guess "the enlightenment" is the fine they payed for being that long overdue.
I suppose a better educated person would know that the creationists actually won the Scopes trial.
Ham, an Australian who moved to America 20 years ago, believes creationists could have presented a better case at the Scopes trail if they'd been better educated -- but he's not among those pushing for creation to be taught in school.
Rather than force skeptical teachers to debate creation, Ham wants kids to come to his museum, where impassioned experts can make their case that apparently ancient fossils and the Grand Canyon were created just a few thousand years ago in a great flood."Impassioned" experts? I guess "qualified" experts weren't available.
"It's not hitting them over the head with a Bible, it's just teaching that we can defend what it says," he said.No matter how counter-factual.
Ham, who also runs a Christian broadcasting and publishing venture, said the museum's Hollywood-quality exhibits set the project apart from the many quirky Creation museums sprinkled across America.I find it somewhat ironic that he is striving for "Hollywood-quality exhibits" instead of something like "Smithsonian," or "Museum of Natural History" quality exhibits. Hollywood being that stalwart bastion of reality that it is.
"I think it shows (nonbelievers) the other side of things," said Carolyn MantoIt certainly does.
"I don't think it's going to be forcing any viewpoint on them, but challenging them to think critically about their evolutionary views," said MantoI'm not sure why these guys focus so much on "evolutionary views." Evolution is just a small subset of what they are really lashing out at: empirically verifiable reality. But I suppose critically thinking about that wouldn't pay their bills.
Posted by dogscratcher at 7:30 AM
Friday, January 12, 2007
At least I'm not the only person to see the daftness.
Several bloggers have picked up on this too: Pharyngula (where I found the cartoon), and The Island of Doubt notably.
It seems that Frosty has uploaded a .doc file defending himself from the people who read the PI story and came to the conclusion that he is in fact insane. Here is a link (so you know I am not making this up), and here are some excerpts:
The Bible says the earth is about 12,000 years old? 14,000 at most?According to the bishop of Ussher, the earth is only 6010 years old, and he was a bishop! (as of October 23rd, 2006 that is).
Or do you want to believe scientists who claim the earth is billions of years old, but can’t produce any thing to prove it.Except rocks, light, and microwaves that are billions of years old.
Who are we to say that global warming is a bad thing? My opinion is change is and always has been one of mankind’s greatest fears.Personally, while paper money does make me anxious, I am definitely not afraid of change.
Time to bring the crazy:
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.Them there cross-shaped celestial bodies is bad enough, but dammit, them red ones portend doom!
The Bible has said for 3500 years that the end days would see global warming because the earth is under a curse because of mankind turning away from the one true God.Isn't the book of Revelations only about 2000 years old?
Like it or not, It’s going to happen and like it or not the people CAN NOT change it. I say that they cannot change it for two reasons, first If it gets changed, it will be by God’s will and that will only happen if the whole planet got baptized in the Holy Spirit and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior within the next 2 years.2 years? Thats a lot of dunking. What if we miss one or two people? Still the end of the world? Somebody needs to create a mixed drink called the "Holy Spirit" so I can be baptized with it. Perhaps I'll suggest that to the folk at Tiki Bar TV.
Second being a man of God I always try to present solutions and not just complain about things. So 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.Freezer coils at the edges of polar glaciers... Who would have ever thought you'd see a creationist that misunderstood the second law of thermodynamics?
If we are going to pursue technologies that better our environment, Let’s do so to better ALL of mankind not just a select few CEOs and members of some board of directors that are politically connected to PACs. OPEC and oil companies, car manufacturers and socialist governments.What happened to "trickle down" economics? The guy sounds like a commie.
I remember a time when futurists and scientists predicted we would all be driving cars powered on nuclear fuel cell electricity that would never need gas, never pollute and the fuel cells were inter-changeable with the next car you buy.I think Frosty must get his information from the "Hannah-Barbera universe:" he is obviously referring here to "The Jetsons," and his belief that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth together comes from "The Flintstones." I imagine he will next channel Scooby Doo, and declare that Armageddon would already be here "if it weren't for them meddlin' teenagers!"
Posted by dogscratcher at 3:36 PM
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Federal Way schools restrict Gore film
Now, I am not a huge Al Gore fan, nor have I seen "An Inconvenient Truth." But here we come across another instance of a loud minority opinion having undue influence on the affairs of state.
Some wingnut in Federal Way Washington named Frosty Hardison gets his knickers in a knot about Gore's film being shown in local public schools. Not because it could be construed as a thinly veiled presidential campaign appeal (which some claim), but because it doesn't present "both sides" of the scientific issue. Frosty's side apparently being that since the earth is only 14,000 years old anyway, global warming has nothing to do with greenhouse gases, and everything to do with, "The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up."
So the school board buys into it, and puts a moratorium on showing the film. On the basis of "fair debate."
So let the mocking begin.
"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty HardisonNo, he teaches college courses (though has no advanced degree). And janitors, they aren't schoolteachers either, and the lunch ladies... Hey...just what the hell is going on here?
"Somebody could say you're killing free speech, and my retort to them would be we're encouraging free speech," said Larson, a lawyer (and school board member, DS). "The beauty of our society is we allow debate."Debates between science and (piss poor) theology?
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,"Like....?
The requirement to represent another side follows district policy to represent both sides of a controversial issue, board President Ed Barney said.The scientifically correct side and clinically insane side?
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.This man is an educator? Don't make me bitch-slap you with the Equivocation Stick.
No opposing view to science? That is in itself a tremendously stupid statement: Frosty has a view opposing science, it's an amazingly stupid, superstitous view, but it is still a view.
"I am shocked that a school district would come to this decision," (Laurie)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."
Gayle Hardison (Frosty's wife) 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."I refuse to believe America is, or ever has, done anything wrong. To think otherwise would be... un-american. No black and white thinking there.
Can someone be "indoctrinated" into empirical reality? Into "critical thinking?"
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.
The reporter, ROBERT McCLURE does a good job in my opinion illuminating both sides of this issue. The idiotic and the sane.
Posted by dogscratcher at 2:03 PM
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Here are a few new whitewater videos I found on YouTube that seem pretty good: and by good I mean either impressive or painfully funny.
This video is of a guy going over "Big Falls" on the Payette river. This is impressive: even though he loses an oar in the first drop, he stays with it, gets the oar back by the big one, and makes it look easy. Excellent tube shape for doing falls: tough to flip. Not to in any way minimize this, but in a lot of class V water like this, it is less a question of skill, and more a question of guts: the toughest part would be looking at the falls and getting into your boat to float it. I for one have neither the skill nor the guts.
This video is of a river that I believe is somewhere in New Zealand, and it is pretty funny. Lots of carnage I think from several different commercial trips.
These are some classic clips mostly from Lochsa Falls: I've never flipped there myself, but mostly due to some very timely, "beyond the pale" hysiding from my wife Sparky (who ended up out of the boat).
Posted by dogscratcher at 2:40 PM
Monday, January 08, 2007
For most this is old news, but I've been busy. This issue however is truly at the "intersection of science and the great outdoors."
The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility released a press report on December 28th of 2006 claiming that "Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees."
According to PEER:
“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”This is not a particularly surprising allegation: there are several well documented cases of the Bush administration doing this sort of thing across several different governmental agencies. For instance here at NASA, here at the CDC, and more generally, here.
As has been pointed out in several places (like here, and here) there seems to be no substance to this particular allegation. If this is in fact an official policy, it both does not seem to be documented, and does not even seem to have been well disseminated to the interpretive staff at the GCRA.
This is the official standard from Director's Order #6
This is from the Park's official website:
8.4.2 Historical and Scientific Research. Superintendents, historians, scientists, and interpretive staff are responsible for ensuring that park interpretive and educational programs and media are accurate and reflect current scholarship. To accomplish this, an on-going dialogue must be established. Questions often arise round the presentation of geological, biological, and evolutionary processes. The interpretive and educational treatment used to explain the natural processes and history of the Earth must be based on the best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism. The facts, theories, and interpretations to be used will reflect the thinking of the scientific community in such fields as biology, geology, physics, astronomy, chemistry, and paleontology. Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes. Programs, however, may acknowledge or explain other explanations of natural processes and events.
(See section 7.5.4 of Management Policies. Also see Director's Order #11B: Ensuring Quality of Information Disseminated by the National Park Service)
Geologic formations such as gneiss and schist found at the bottom of the Canyon date back 1,800 million years.So why would PEER make this allegation?
Simply put, it seems to be a way to get publicity. They want to keep in the public eye the issue of this creationist book that is being sold at the park book shop. This in my opinion is a separate issue, and one that needs to be addressed. If you actually Read the PEER letter to NPS Director Bomar , this is the main issue they are addressing. It seems like the stuff about the staff not being able to talk about the age of the canyon is just used as a way of "refreshing" the issue for the public.
In my opinion, PEER is trying to do a good thing. They are trying to get the creationist tract out of the bookstore. According to several of the above cited sources, this book is now found in the "inspirational" section of the bookstore and so is not being sold as science. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be an "inspirational" section in the online catalog, and the book is being sold in the "natural history" section. Inspirational maybe, but natural history? That is a pretty big stretch.
So while this has garnered some of the desired publicity for PEER, in my opinion, their credibility is called into question. By indulging in rank speculation and not providing any hard evidence that "the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’" they undermine their own efforts and by association the efforts of the promoters of science everywhere. If even these guys can legitimatley mock you, you have credibility issues. The ends do not justify the means, and evidence always trumps heresay.
Joe Meert over at Science, AntiScience and Geology sent an email to the GCA pointing out the Vail book in the natural history section, and they very quickly replied:
Professor Meert,Can't ask for more than that.
I completely agree. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. This title was approved as an inspirational title and should not ever be listed in the science or Natural History sections whether online or within our outlets. I was completely unaware of this error and will assure you that it will be corrected immediately.
Posted by dogscratcher at 7:58 AM