Archive for June, 2008

Colonel Drummond is Rolling in his Grave

You know… the fact that the Discovery Institute, an organization that promotes Intelligent Design which was ruled to be a religious theory by Judge Jones, drafted the “academic freedom” bill that Louisiana wants to pass doesn’t raise any red flags for me that there’s religious motivation behind it! Neither does this:

British atheist and staunch Darwin defender Richard Dawkins’ official website is urging Americans to oppose the Louisiana Science Education Act. Newsflash for Richard, we’re not a British colony anymore.

Barbara Forrest has been scare-mongering all over the country that the LSEA is a secret ploy to get religion or creationism into science classes. And she’s been complaining loudly in Louisiana that outside groups are trying to get it passed. Now, though, she’s not just asking for help from outside her state. She’s asking for help from outside the country!

In fact, the LSEA is a home-grown measure. Drafted by Democratic state senator Ben Nevers, the bill was inspired by the Ouachita Parish School District Policy which was established almost two years ago. The LSEA echoes some of what Discovery Institute has called for in its sample academic freedom legislation, but the bill has been advanced by Louisiana citizens and has won overwhelming support from Louisiana legislators.

Forrest and her friends, however, are calling for help from around the world. Forrest’s letter is being showcased and e-mailed all over the world by Richarddawkins.net. As usual, the letter is full of falsehoods.

This bill is not about creationism or religion. That’s a red herring from desperate Darwinists. The bill is about allowing teachers to present scientific evidence that supports Darwin’s theory, as well as some that challenges it. If a tenth grader can understand arguments for Darwinism, she can understand scientific arguments against it. For more information on what the bill does (and does not) do, see here.

Forrest’s new “coalition” is trying to rile up activists to flood Governor Jindal with hate mail. Instead, why don’t you click here and send him a message of support and let him know Louisiana should lead the way to academic freedom and freedom of scientific inquiry by signing the LSEA into law.

Oh for cryin’ out loud! This is absurd!

The “Academic Freedom” bill is obviously anti-intellectual anti-science mush which is going to screw up science education even more in this country which happens to have a foreign policy that involves extending beyond its borders.

Pardon Richard Dawkins for caring about the dung pile of ignorance I’m sitting in whose stench is continually being carried across the seas.

I for one am glad that we’re getting help from the rest of the enlightened world. The Discovery Institute is just a swarm of dung beetles who are upset because they can’t get anybody outside of this nation of backwardness because the world is shooting ahead of us while we fall back into the 16th century.

“This community is an insult to the world.”

“Colonel” Drummond

Ignunt Fool of the Week

This week’s ignunt fool of the week is…

George W. Bush

As if you needed to be told that he’s an ignunt fool.

I’ve been reading The Assault on Reason by Al Gore. In some parts I love him. In other parts, particularly where he tries to make a weak case for the decisions Bush has made in favour of the religious right being motivated more by ideology than by faith, he annoys me. Which makes me wonder why I’m not going to bother making him IFW for this week, but I’ll pass judgement when I’m done…

Anyway, his comments on Bush’s presidency has inspired me to do a special Ignunt Fool of the Week on a few of my favourite things that Bush has done.

  1. The Iraq War – Forged documents to make it seem like Iraq had attempted to purchase yellow-cake uranium and other “evidence”. Something around $875 billion later, no weapons of mass destruction and the country isn’t stable. One good thing, though. That arse, Saddam Hussein, is out of power. Saudi Arabia, North Korea, etc. are still run by tyrannical arses.
  2. Abstinence-Only Sex Education – Teens are going to be having sex anyway. It’s just a question of whether or not they’re going to use condoms to not get STDs or pregnant.
  3. Patriot Act – Nothing says 1984 like ignoring the fourth amendment and disrespecting people’s privacy without a warrant to hunt down terrorists. How many terrorist attacks have been averted by wire-tapping without warrants again?
  4. Torture – As another “fuck you” to the Bill of Rights, let’s torture people!
  5. Etc. etc. ad nauseum – I could go on but I’m too sleep deprived.

And now, just to end with what I think may be the only Bush quote I can agree with…

“Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.”

George W. Bush

For a God who doesn’t speak a word against slavery, who sent a flood to wipe out every living thing on Earth, who wants us to surrender reason and freethought for blind faith, who sends anybody who doesn’t believe in His son to an eternity of Hell fire no matter how good they are, you can’t argue with that.

Stop. Memetime!

This post is going to be full of memes. One meme, two meme, red meme, blue meme… I haven’t seen any new memes on the Internet lately, so I feel it is now my duty to create one. I present for your use the new meme:

lolmetaphors are mostly nonsensical and completely absurd metaphors which compare things to a completely unrelated animal doing something completely unrelated.

lolmetaphors can take one of two forms:

1. “It is as *adjective* as a(n) *verb* *animal*”

2. “… like a(n) *verb* *animal*”

Pluschanges havmust minitrue approve.

Feel free to use the comments to practice your lolmetaphors, and remember: Big Brother is Watching You™.

Doubleplusbunnies.

Veto SB733

I do believe that I mentioned last week that Louisiana passed its anti-evolution bill, SB 733, the text of which you can find here. Well, there’s one last chance and that’s to get the governor of Louisiana to veto it. You can type up a nice little e-mail here. Be polite, by the way! Here’s the polite e-mail I sent him.

Dear Governor Jindal,

I am a 15 year-old  high school student and college student (I’m both at the same time, it’s complicated) in Colorado who is concerned about bill SB733.

I read the text of the bill a few months ago, and I think that it’s a jolly good thing to have students exercise critical thinking when examining ALL scientific theories, but the fact that the bill specifically mentions evolution, origins of life, climate change and human cloning raises the red flag that it’s a sneaky way of getting politics and religion into the science classroom.

Granted, the theory of the origin of life isn’t complete (though what we know so far does make it seem highly probable that it was an entirely natural process), there is some speculation over how much of climate change is caused by us, and I would be in favor of a discussion over ethics in science, but evolution is accepted as a fact.

The only alternative theory I’d suspect students to be taught would be Intelligent Design which was already ruled to be religion and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and does not present data anyway.

When I found out that the Discovery Institute was sponsoring the bill, that only made the red flags even more prominent.

Either way, even if there were any real scientific controversy over evolution, it wouldn’t be settled in the science classroom. It would go through rigorous testing, peer-reviewed journals, and all that stuff that real scientists do until there were enough evidence to back it up. Then it would be taught in schools. Not the other way around.

To put it in a nut shell (you must be a busy man and perhaps I should just have put it in a nut shell first), it’s obvious what this bill is intended to do: wiggle religion and politics into public school science education. I wouldn’t call that very high science education standards. I hope you will understand why this ought to be vetoed.

Thank you so very much for your time, and have a splendid day.

I think I should have ended it with “bunnies” or something, actually.

Big Bangs and Little Bunnies: A Response to zsirrom

Elles has alerted me to a rather interesting comment from one of our readers. The author appears to be a creationist, though I may be seeing things. Where did I put the precious, again? Anyway, here’s the comment:

“This still doesn’t give any evidence for how the “big bang” got started, or how life began. Also the supposed evidence for the “big bang” fails to even come close to convincing me that it is indeed how the universe came to be. If you have taken a high-school level Chemistry class you should know what extrapolation is, but you should also know that when you extrapolate, the amount of data that you assume will continue the pattern must be negligible compared to the total amount of data you have. Extrapolating what happened 12 billion years ago from just decades, maybe a century of gathering data is completely ridiculous. Also it is a very scientifically unsound way to gather data.”

My initial reaction was to turn up the Evil and write a scathing response, but I’ve decided to be nice for now. The following should be read as a response to the above comment. Sort of like email correspondence, or even this mythological “mail” I’ve heard of.

<Not The Earthly Incarnation of Evil> You would be correct in saying that we cannot be 100% certain that the Big Bang theory is correct. In fact, we probably can’t be 100% certain of anything. This is fairly common knowledge, though, so I’ll leave it at that.

To greatly simplify the Big Bang theory, it states that “The universe originated from a single point at some point in the past.” Our existence can be explained by this: “This point is usually considered a singularity, meaning it has infinite density, and would have a mass equivalent to the energy of all the particles in the universe. This singularity explodes, creating a giant ball of stuff. The uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics results in there being local abnormalities scattered throughout the new universe. These abnormalities plus time form the nonuniform universe we live in today.”

How do we know this? Science. Theories are tested, predictions are made, stuff blown up, pretty colours made, glow in the dark bunnies made (a short break from reading must be taken to consider the awesomeness that is glow in the dark bunnies)… We know the basic tenets of the Big Bang theory are most likely correct for several reasons: 1. The Universe’s Expansion: The universe has been observed to be expanding in all directions. This means that at some point it was closer together. Given enough time, we have a singularity or single point (a requirement for the big bang).

2. Cosmic Background Radiation: The uniformity of the observed cosmic background radiation is consistent with current models of the Big Bang. The Big Bang also happens to explain this radiation. Thus, we have a theory predicting that something will exist. This thing exists. What does this say about the theory?

3. Steven Hawking’s a Fucking Genius: Yes, this is an appeal to authority. However, it is valid in this case because people like Steven Hawking are actually authorities on their field. They know what they’re talking about because of their extensive education. Arguing with a professional mathematician who says that 0.9… = 1 is not only a bad idea (you’ll lose), but rather antihumble.

I think I’ve addressed the Big Bang issue well enough, so I’ll move on to the origin of life. We know that the universe exists such that there is matter capable of supporting life. The issue is: Could life originate without help in our universe? The answer is yes. All you need is a bit of spontaneous chemistry. If you make a big enough pool of goo, at some point, somewhere in the entirety of the universe, you can expect that an organic molecule will show up. Once you get one that can reproduce itself, you get evolution. A billion or two years later, you have a much larger and more organized bag of mostly water using a tool to communicate to another bag why the aforementioned bags of mostly water exist.

You argue that we “haven’t spent enough time gathering data”. Ignoring the fact that we have many more scientists now than we ever have in the past, you don’t need millions of years to prove a theory. You need an idea, usually a crazy one that explains something. You search for something to prove your crazy idea true. If you find it, congratulations, here’s your Nobel prize. If you can find the required evidence in three seconds, good for you. If it takes 5 000 years, after being checked for ADHD, congratulations, here’s your Nobel Prize adjusted for 5 000 years of inflation.

I hope I’ve been helpful. If not, I’m still a bunny. </Not The Earthly Incarnation of Evil>

For those wondering, the physics I described are from “A Brief History of Time: Tenth Anniversary Updated and Expanded Edition” by Steven Hawking. It’s a very good book if you can find it, and the updated version should be reasonably up to date. Please note that I am by no means an authority on anything other than Snorglology (the study of snorgling, generally of adorable creatures). The biology is just common sense, as is the science bit. Common Sense is (C) 2008 Copyright Holder Name Here.

To avoid giving the impression that I am hostile to these comments, I’d like to thank “zsirrom” for commenting. I enjoyed the opportunity to share a bit of evidence.

Acetylsalicylic acid.

Bunnies.

I’m Not Proud to be Human Right Now

Dedicated to all my gay friends.

So, here I am in my aerospace camp (we learn about aerospace engineering and make stuff like circuits and rockets) and a group of black boys who were forced to go there by their parents were talking about gays and how much they hate them.

“Wow…” I said. “You do realize that about 150 years ago your ancestors were in slavery because they had a different skin colour.”

They acted like I was just stating the obvious. “No! I had no idea…” they said sarcastically.

“Well, here you are, 50 years after the Civil Right’s movement and you’re discriminating against somebody because they’re different.”

“So?”

No, I don’t mean to say that all blacks are hypocrites. Homophobia is found in whites just as much as blacks as well as acceptance of gays. It has nothing to do with skin colour. But the Civil Right’s movement should have taught us all a lesson. The Civil Right’s movement should have taught us that just because somebody is different doesn’t mean we have to hate them.

What kind of a person hates another person because of their personal sexual preferences?

This is why I’m not proud to be human right now. We get discriminated against for our differences, initiate change to make that better, and then go back to discriminating against a new minority.

Reason save us all.

Science for Creationists Made Easy!

Well, I was asked nicely.

WE NEED YOU! — I am looking for people who can “seed” the Made Easy series, either hosting it on their websites, mailing DVDs to schools or to other ‘seeds’, or spreading through BitTorrents. If you can help spread a bit of science and counter the rolling tide of creationist ignorance, please get in touch. Message me with a description of what you can do. Thanks!

The ‘Made Easy’ series is designed to explain the evidence that shows how we got here, from the Big bang to human migration out of Africa. A better quality version will soon be available for free download from a website — details to be announced. I will be happy to send DVDs free of charge to schools after the series is finished.

The ‘Made Easy’ series of videos can be freely copied and distributed for educational purposes, but cannot be used for commercial gain in whole or in part. They cannot be altered, transformed or added to. If you use repost these videos you must attribute them to ‘Potholer54 on YouTube.”

Yay science!

Ignunt Fool of the Week

Firstly, the Ignunt Fool of the Week is normally posted on Friday. Today may be Sunday for you, but we have learned that time is just a social construct (that thing Einstein said about time being relative was just a conspiracy. Pay no attention to the German physicist behind the curtain). So, without further adieu and whatnot, the Ignunt Fool of the Week:

Ignunce. It’s a thing. It’s stuff. It’s whatnot. Short sentences. It has a face. Here it is:

This is John Hogue. He “writes about Nostradamus with the clarity and interpretive accuracy of a kindred prophet.” The preceding link may not be right for you if you are nursing, pregnant, may become pregnant, could be pregnant, are named Mary, may be impregnated by the Holy Spirit, etc. May also cause hypertension and glaucoma.

Now that you’re fully aware of the medical risks associated with clicking on that link, it’s time to learn why John Hogue is ignunt. To start, he claims to be able to predict the future and isn’t Steven Hawking. This is automatically ignunt, but not quite ignunt enough to be an Ignunt Fool of the Week. We do have standards, after all… don’t we?

What makes John Hogue the Ignunt Fool of the Week is found a bit lower on his “biography” page. Within his poorly written excuse for an “About Me” page is enough ignorance to power the planet for at least a year by fueling the Stupidity – Anti Stupidity reactor to the left of my spleen. He claims to be unlike all the “doom and gloom” prophets because he offers solutions to all these upcoming problems. I’m amazed. A person sees a problem and thinks of a solution. So far he’s managed to be hypocritical in a paragraph devoted to proving he’s not a hypocrite.

Later on in this multi – page support of 500th trimester abortion is a gem of unbelievable quality: Him inflating his academic qualifications. According to him,

“I hate writing about myself. Anything said will only have a glass fragment of truth and not present before you the whole mirror reflecting a human being. Fragments held too tightly as the whole truth tend to cut and slice one’s hand. Any identity or label is a piece of the whole person; however, as this is the dark age of Kali Yuga, let us move forward in the darkness of print.Over the past 30 years, I must have studied enough on my own to become a Rhodes Scholar but I attained no degrees, short of the minimum requirement–a high school diploma–in 1974. More than this degree in society’s de-education of my intelligence was too much to bear. The price for a further dulling of intelligence required I assume to many others’ degrees of BS, BMs, acidic PhDs of borrowed knowledge. Thus after a number of interesting adventures, nervous breakthroughs and jumps into the unknown, I currently, and somewhat cheekishly, go by the title “Rogue” scholar.”

For someone who doesn’t like writing about himself, he says a lot. His distaste for acadamia in general is a classic symptom of someone suffering from Those Mean Scientists Wouldn’t Let Me Join Their Smart People Club So Now I’m Bitter Syndrome (TMSWLMJTSPCSNIBS).

He goes on to babble about “awakening people” and “creating true skeptics”. If anything, he’s creating a bunch of mini-selfs: more supposed prophets with even more to be mocked. Of course, it’s more productive for me to focus my mockery on the Queen of this colony of crazy conquistadores (who says alliteration has to make sense?).

Eventually he makes a point consisting of less than 3 Tbsp Stupid and 1 Tsp Baking Ignunce: “People are stupid.” This tiny jewel in his page of patheticfulness (if Steven Colbert can make “truthiness”, I’m claiming patheticfulness) does little to redeem him.

The paragraph,

“Idios also means being ‘special’ or ‘distinct’ from other personalities. I-diocy is what you get when the society seeds the empty skylike being of a child’s soul with the dark rain clouds of a borrowed identity. Nevertheless, if one is aware, one sees that for any identification to exist, it requires its opposite. If society and religion can program you to I-dentify, there is a chance you can deprogram yourself from religious and societal conditioning and experience dis-I-dentification. No matter how dark is society’s hurricane of beclouded thoughts and feelings conditioned to roil life into ego personified, it must rotate around a profoundly becalmed inner eye in its center. That eye in the idiot’s storm can be a window to the larger sky we have forgotten. It is a reminder of the unbearable lightness of being infinite.”

wins the Thrawn Award for the Best Butchery of Philobabble. What it’s supposed to mean I’ll let you interpret for yourself. I think it has to do with pancakes.

Now, he tells us a bit about some things other than his bag of poorly cooked oatmeal he calls a brain, informing us of the nature of his birth. He’s reached neutral idiocy in a paragraph for once. Frankly, I’m shocked.

He has to ruin it, though. It’s just the way he works. He describes his “career in the arts” with much fondness. He just had to leave it to spread his amazing knowledge, of course. His “promising singing career” was apparently not ended by his inability to think and breathe at the same time, but rather his sudden change of career from mediocre performer to abysmal Predictor of Bad Things.

My brain hurts. John Hogue, you is ignunt, hunny.

Bunnies.

Freakin’ Selfish Replicators

Ah! A meme from Homologous Legs!

Ok, ok, ok… I hate chain letter passionately. But… blogging memes are different. I’m not quite sure why, but they are a little less dumb so I’ll do it.

Q1. How would you define “atheism”?

The lack of belief in a god (meaning supernatural consciousness) or gods who interfere with the physical universe.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

No. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster…

Q3. How would you describe “Intelligent Design”, using only one word?

IDiocy.

Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

Space exploration.

Q5. If you could change one thing about the “atheist community”, what would it be and why?

I know there’s some trapdoor spider hiding in the shadows waiting to spring out, tackle me, and scream “appeaser!”, but I think we could be nicer to theistic evolutionists. They’re already compartmentalized, and they usually help us out.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said “I’m joining the clergy”, what would be your first response?

Well, if that’s what floats your boat, I can’t stop you. I would prefer if you did something productive with your life, though. I implore you to think about it some more, go to college first, and then when you’ve lived life a while and you’ve learned more and you’re sure it’s what you want to do, go ahead. Do remember that it’s probably going to suck… a lot.

Q7. What’s your favourite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

They’re all poor and get used over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Eventually the “arguments” refutations all sound the same.

Q8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

Since controversy leads to traffic and I don’t get much traffic, I guess I don’t have one. I should get one. Maybe Thrawn has one?

Q9. Of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Dawkins because he’s the only scientist and because science rules. Though, I do love how much science Dennett uses in his philosophy.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

Muhammad.

Now name three other atheist blogs that you’d like to see take up the Atheist Thirteen gauntlet:

1. Chicken Girl

2. Intrinsically Knotted

3. Metamagician and the Hellfire Club

Oh, which reminds me… I haven’t linked to Russell Blackford on my “People I Appreciate” thingamabob. I need to do that.

OK, people… go to his site. He’s amazingly awesome. Seriously, go. I owe him traffic-love for forgetting to link to him so many times. GO!

Twittering?

Apparently I joined Twitter on May 19 of this year because the BadAstronomer was on it (yes, I normally do things because other people are doing it if I don’t know why they’re doing it). So, I joined, played around with my profile a bit, then forgot about it until just now.

I can’t say that I’ve really discovered the reason for its existence yet, but I think that it’s a social networking site with a stalkerish/cultish flair to it. Instead of friending people you “follow” them and a little thing pops up and fades away saying “You are now following (insert person here)”.

And instead of accumulating friends, you accumulate “followers”.

So far, I only have one follower and you can’t be a cult leader with only one follower. So, if you want to join my cult follow me on Twitter, log in and follow me, or register. K?

While I’m at it, I wish that a certain co-author would get on a few social networking sites… hint hint!

Update: Thrawn has a Twitter! And we STILL have no idea what it exists for but our cult is growing!