Archive for May, 2008

Ignunt Fool of the Week

This week’s ignunt fool of the week is…

Ok, sorry. I’m not doing one this week. I just got done with all of my high school final exams so I haven’t had much time to go searching the world for ignunt fools (although they usually seem to come to me first).

I promise to have one next week, though. For now, I’m just relaxing… maybe taking a nap… maybe doing some homework for my summer college classes… You know, something not particularly productive.

Keiffe & Sons Update

Ford replied to the nice little e-mail I sent them comparing the Keiffe & Sons advertisement to racism.

Thank you for contacting the Ford Motor Company Customer Relationship Center regarding the Kieffe and Sons Ford’s advertisement.

Ford Motor Company is concerned with the satisfaction of all Ford and Lincoln-Mercury owners and potential customers. We regret the circumstances that have prompted you to contact us.

This specific issue has been addressed by Ford Motor Company personnel with appropriate representatives at Kieffe and Sons Ford in Mojave, California. Our investigation has determined that the advertising was placed in error. Corrective actions have been taken to prevent this from happening again.

Thank you for taking the time to bring this to our attention.

If you have any other inquiries, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to address them for you.

Well, I do have a further inquiry that I won’t bother making directly to them. How can you place an advertisement like that “in error”? And what kind of “corrective actions” are they taking to prevent this from happening again? Fine, don’t be specific. I think these customer service representatives could make great politicians.

Oh Poe!

Remember banana man?

According to Phil Plait, he has a blog! It’s only a little stupider than the banana video, which leads me to wonder if Ray Comfort is actually an actor who’s a closet evolutionist making creationists look stupider than they actually are. Creationists can’t be that stupid, can they? Oh… I am so tempted to invoke Poe’s law on Ray Comfort.

Right then, from his latest blog post on the Phoenix lander…

Pasadena scientists rejoiced recently when their robot landed on Mars. Their expedition cost $420 million, took years to plan, and required an amazing ten months for the flight. The robot will collect soil samples and look for evidence that Mars could support life. Does the red planet have the “building blocks of life”?

First of all, the Phoenix lander cost us less than we spend in a day fighting the Iraq War.

Considering that creationists believe that God shaped Adam from the dust and breathed life into his nostrils, then Mars does have what the creationists believe are the building blocks of life. For some reason, believing that amino acids and the base pairs of DNA found when the conditions of early Earth are replicated are the building blocks of life doesn’t seem as absurd.

I was excited when man first brought back samples from the moon’s surface. We waited while the amazing samples were tested. We waited for a long time. I guess enthusiasm waned a little when they discovered that God had made the moon from dirt. What did they expect? I’m sure that they will find that God also made Mars of dirt. Dirt. A $420 million discovery. How amazing.

Come on… Poe’s law will kick in any time now, right? Nobody is actually that scientifically ignorant. Come to think of it, my history teacher doesn’t know that Earth is the third planet from the Sun… but that error was quickly corrected. History teacher > Ray Comfort.

Hell, dirt can be exciting. What we found was that the moon is composed of the same elements most commonly found towards the surface of the Earth. This is evidence for the theory that the moon formed from the Earth when a Mars-sized planetesimal collided with it, the ejected matter eventually forming the moon. We found evidence that God did not make the moon, but that a spontaneous cosmic collision did.

But that’s not what Phoenix was sent to Mars for. We already knew that it was made of dirt and rocks, of course (it is a freaking terrestrial planet, after all). Phoenix was sent to look for ice in the polar region. I’m sure that they will find that Mars has ice, water ice, at its polar region. This would be exciting because it would provide evidence that Mars may have once been able to support life if it had liquid water on its surface, and we might be able to unfreeze the ice caps to potentially terraform Mars so that we can live there someday if we screw up our planet enough.

Maybe we should spend our time and money on cleaning up the dirt in our own backyard. There sure is plenty of it.

Maybe, but studying planetary science has given us lots of insight onto how our own planet works. Venus, where the temperature is a cool 864°F, is a good example of what might happen to Earth if we don’t stop global warming.

If we ever discover intelligent life forms in space, it’s a given that we will start a war and kill them.

I actually wasn’t surprised by this last part. Creationists are professionals at jumping to weird conclusions like that with no evidence.

Come on Comfort… I’m invoking Poe’s law on you a third time. Come out of the closet, I know that you’re just an actor making fun of creationists, right?

Feel free to leave comments on his blog. Just remember…

Feel free to disagree and to be passionate about your beliefs (open discussion is healthy), but keep in mind that comments that use cuss words (even “mild” words and abbreviations for cuss words), blasphemy, a lack of civility, or those that fail to give the name “God” or “Jesus” capitals, will be automatically deleted.

Skiffy and Crystal Skulls

To celebrate the opening of the new Indiana Jones film, I’m doing a post making fun of the myth being used as a plot device. Don’t get me wrong, I love Indiana Jones and if it weren’t for finals this week, I would have seen the film already, but I hate it when myths are perpetrated just to make money. And I’m not exactly pointing the finger at Spielberg (though he is known for a few pseudoscientific tendencies), but Skiffy’s doing it.

Skiffy is an unaffectionate term Stargate fans developed for Sci-Fi channel after it canceled Stargate: SG-1. I’m not only unaffectionate of Skiffy because it canceled one of the coolest science fiction shows ever, but also because they have very little science fiction that they’re not trying to pass of as fact anymore. They’ve got stuff like Destination Truth (a show that searches for mythical creatures like mermaids), Ghost Hunters, and “documentaries” like The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls” .

Sounds like material suitable for the science fiction channel, but they just have to present it as if it were science fact.

One of archaeology’s most compelling mysteries is that of the 13 crystal skulls. The crystal skulls have been some of the most powerful mystical symbols in human history. Several “perfect” crystal skulls have been found in parts of Mexico and Central and South America. Together, they form a mystery as enigmatic as the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge.

This summer the connection will become known worldwide, with the release of the new Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Hosted by Lester Holt, SCI FI’s investigative special Mystery of the Crystal Skulls will explore the history of these perplexing artifacts — the myths, the legends, the controversies, and the secret scientific tests performed on them behind closed doors.

But if we wish to comprehend their deepest mysteries, we must hurry. According to the prophecy, only by reuniting all or nearly all of the 13 crystal skulls can humankind unlock secrets that will allow us to avoid the apocalypse predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar — which comes to end on Dec. 21, 2012.

The countdown for the salvation of the human race has begun.

Why are we trusting the Mayans anyway? They couldn’t predict the downfall of their own civilization, and how the hell were they supposed to be able to predict when the world would end?

About the Mayan calendar… It operates on cycles. You know, like a circle which ends and begins again. The way they calculated that date was based on when this particular cycle is supposed to end. These cycles happen every 1,872,000 days. If the end of each cycle was really supposed to be the end of the world, considering that the world is 4.6 billion years old… Damn it, where’s my calculator?

Right then, in the history of the Earth it should have ended about (rounding up) 900,000 times. Even Rainbow Eagle knew this.

So, I’m still planning on hopefully getting my bachelors degree sometime in 2012 and working on my masters in 2013. On the off chance that New Age gurus turn up evidence that 2012 is actually the end of the world, you’re all invited to an End-of-the-World party at my place.

Anyway, Skiffy was also claiming that the crystal skulls were “alien artefacts” because everybody knows that the Mayans were incompetent idiots who couldn’t have built any of their cities/temples/etc on their own!

And, indeed, Skiffy got Richard Hoagland to connect the crystal skulls to there being life on Mars. Woohoo! Alien artefacts!

And now for something completely different… A reliable news source, the BBC says… here’s a shocker… They’re not alien artefacts!

Crystal skulls are the focus of the story in the latest Indiana Jones film.

But experts say examples held at the British Museum in London and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC are anything but genuine.

Their results show the skulls were made using tools not available to the ancient Aztecs or Mayans.

Researchers say the work, which is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, should end decades of speculation over the origins of these controversial objects.

And it casts serious doubt over the authenticity of other crystal skulls held in collections around the world.

Apparently the markings on the skulls, when looked at through an electron microscope, show that the tool used was probably a rotary wheel, something that the Mayans most likely did not have.

Who made the skulls is still a mystery. But, in the case of the British Museum object, some point the finger of suspicion at a 19th Century French antiquities dealer called Eugene Boban.

“We assume that he bought it from, or had it made from [craftsmen] somewhere in Europe,” said Professor Freestone, a former deputy keeper of science and conservation at the British Museum.

Contemporary documents suggest Mr Boban was involved in selling at least two of the known crystal skulls – the one held in London and another in Paris.

The London skull was probably manufactured no more than a decade before being offered up for sale.

NPR also did a story on it for the opening of the Indiana Jones movie.

One thing the scientists have figured out is that the British Museum’s skull came from Boban, that mysterious French collector. In the late 1800s, he first described it as a piece of artwork. Then he began calling it an Aztec artifact, in an attempt, Sax says, to make it “more appealing in order to sell it.”

So, what are these things? Walsh says they’re not exactly “fakes” because they aren’t copies of anything.

“I don’t think there are any real ones,” she explains. “They’re really a kind of invented artifact. … Some person or some workshop was cranking them out and selling them to a European or North American audience, which is where they all wind up.”

I don’t blame the Russians for getting upset about being associated with the lunatic crystal skull tosh (and by the way, some Spaniards are jumping over babies to ward off me the devil).

Well, gosh! If I could find that on the Internet, surely the douche bags making this “documentary” could find it too.

Just how deluded are the network executives at Skiffy? I don’t know, but hey! Bull shit sells! Hope your distortion of science has you laughing all the way to the bank, Skiffy.

Shall We Segregate Atheists?

“Did you know that there are people in this country who want to end Jim Crow laws, let black children go to white schools, and make buses let blacks and whites sit wherever they want?

But did you know that 72% of Americans are Caucasians? Since we all know that 72 out of every 100 of us are Caucasians, who have white skin, we at Keiffe & Sons Ford wonder why we don’t tell the other 28% to sit down and shut up. I guess I just offended 28% of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case then I say that’s tough, this is America folks, it’s called free speech. None of us at Keiffe & Sons Ford is afraid to speak out. Keiffe & Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond, if we don’t see you today, by the grace of God, we’ll be here tomorrow.”

That’s not the actual quote. If it were, I don’t think that Keiffe & Sons Ford would still be operational unless we are still in the 1960s. The actual quote from their advertisement is:

“Did you know that there are people in this country who want prayer out of schools, “Under God” out of the Pledge, and “In God We Trust” to be taken off our money?

But did you know that 86% of Americans say they believe in God? Since we all know that 86 out of every 100 of us are Christians, who believe in God, we at Keiffe & Sons Ford wonder why we don’t tell the other 14% to sit down and shut up. I guess I just offended 14% of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case then I say that’s tough, this is America folks, it’s called free speech. None of us at Keiffe & Sons Ford is afraid to speak out. Keiffe & Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond, if we don’t see you today, by the grace of God, we’ll be here tomorrow.”

And God damn it, he has the freedom of speech to say that, but God damn it, if he were saying that about any other minority, he would lose business. God damn it, this is probably going to increase his business.

Update: Simon, over at Bloggasm has an idea for people who live in the area to protest in a rather unique way. Go over and see it!

You can also send Ford a polite e-mail here.

Friday, 8th Period

And my anecdote of ignunce for the day…

There’s a girl in my speech and debate class who doesn’t know all the names of everybody, even though we’ve been in school since… August? Something like that.

Because of her, the teacher made us all take a name quiz and… she failed… twice.

Earlier this week, we were doing persuasive speeches so the kids who were going on that day were putting their names on the board in order in which they would go. One kid really wanted to go as close to last as possible, so he moved the name of the girl who couldn’t name everybody in the class up to the top. She noticed, told the teacher, and he was forced to go second.

As he grudgingly made his way to the front of the room she said…

“You spelled my name wrong. I wasn’t about to let you off that easily.”

Yes… so says the girl who can’t name everybody in the class.

There Isn’t Hope for the World

A while back, I did a post titled There is Hope for the World” talking about how I’d seen a show which, for once, instead of presenting a bunch of pseudoscientific bull was actually debunking the tricks psychics had used to fool people. I had begun that post talking about how I was annoyed with the pseudoscience shows on the Sci-Fi channel which had ruined my enjoyment of Doctor Who every time they advertised that they were searching for the Yeti or something during the commercial breaks because I would have to cover my eyes and say “teh stoopid! it hurts!”

At least this wasn’t during Doctor Who.

Skeptics argue that ghosts do not exist and that all paranormal activity can be explained scientifically. However, TAPS has proven otherwise. TAPS has gathered scientific evidence of the paranormal, and the TV show has helped bring ghost hunting into the mainstream.

Er… wrong. Skepticism is not presuppositionalist like that. I don’t know, maybe there are ghosts. The possibility is very slim, though, and random static which sounds like people talking (an inconvenient effect of our brains being programmed for language) and lens flares and electro-magnetic fields (which can be generated by light bulbs) and whatever else they present on that show certainly isn’t evidence for the existence of ghosts.

Who decided that ghosts generate electro-magnetic fields anyway?

As for “helping” to bring ghost hunting into the mainstream, I point to one of the comments left on the blog.

Hello,

My daughter who will be 21 and lives in Salida Colorado has recently moved into a rental house. The house was built in 1904. Every since she has been there she wakes up in the night ( her eyes are open yet she remembers none of this) wakes up her significant other and tells him that there are two men in the room and to turn on the light. He in turn turnes on the light and she lays down, this happens on a nightly basis yet she remembers none of it. One of these nights she was crying during this not really awake state. She remembers nothing of this yet it is affecting her health where as she is not getting good sleep. I have been trying to research the town to see if I can find any documentation of strange deaths, etc. and am having a difficult time. I have found that Chaffe County Colorado and particularly Salida have very many hauntings yet very little information on the specifics. Can you lead me in any particular direction so that I may begin to feel at peace. I have asked her many many questions IE: is she waking up with scratches or bruises ever, does her dog or cats act strange, lots of things like that. She has indicated lights turning the color of flourescent bulbs and doors opening on their own. She has not experienced anything physically threatening. Please give me any advice that you can.

Thank you,
a very nervous believer mother
Robin Morrill

I feel the mother’s concern for her daughter, but seriously… Problems sleeping therefore ghosts? My mum tells me all the time that when she passes by my room at night she hears me talking in my sleep, and I, of course, don’t remember any of it. Sleepwalking isn’t unheard of. 18% of people in the world are prone to it.

No, I most certainly don’t think that the Ghost Hunters are “helping” us with their crummy evidence. The only thing that it’s “helping” with is to get people to make huge leaps of logic and see ghosts everywhere before fully investigating all possibilities with healthy skepticism.

There isn’t hope for the world.

But, wait. I just got back from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We were watching live video from NASA as we waited for Phoenix to land.

I was hanging around in Space Odyssey when I saw a boy looking bored. I asked him if he was having fun and he said that he was upset that he was stuck there. So, I started teaching him about the sun spots and he learned some real science about magnetic fields. Then I showed him a picture of the sun in infrared and I decided to take him over to the infrared camera to teach him some more about that. He learned some real science about infrared cameras. The boy thanked me about three times before he left. I think I turned his evening around.

It’s miraculous that we even do science at all and I just got back from a place that was built as a celebration of nature and science!

There is hope for the world.

Sorry to those of you who will read this by title only.