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Archive for April, 2008

If you read Pharyngula, then you’ve probably already seen this video:

So many thing wrong with Ben Stein’s claims in that video.

(1) He says that audiences love the new Expelled movie. Big deal – even if that were true, and I’m sure some people loved it – all it shows is that theists love when the movie “beats up” evolutionary theory by smearing it with allegations of a Nazi link. I’m sure the Protocols of Zion was well received in the Muslim world, too. What does that prove other than “pandering to people’s preconceived notions, no matter how stupid they are, makes them love you”.

(2) He says that “science leads you to killing people”, but religion leads to kindness. This shouldn’t even deserve a rebuttal because it’s plainly stupid, but I guess the stupidity isn’t obvious enough, because some people (like the host) agree with him. Personally, I think anti-science idiots should practice what they preach: no clean water, no electricity, no modern medicine, no machine-created clothing, no automobiles, etc. Given Mel Gibson’s devout Catholicism, I have to wonder how Ben Stein explains his anti-semitic outburst – “science made him do it?” Martin Luther’s aggressive anti-semitism – “he was a closet scientist?”

(3) He says that the United States needs to enlarge its military so that it can simultaneously win three wars: Iran attacking Saudi Arabia, North Korea attacking South Korea and Japan, and China attacking Taiwan. First of all, I’m not sure why the United States must be the sole “policeman” in the world – intervening and winning whenever country A attacks country B. Second, what makes him think all three conflicts will happen, and happen simultaneously? And third, if we agree to increase spending to handle all three conflicts simultaneously, then why not add a fourth and a fifth conflict – thus legitimizing a few-trillion dollar military budget to prepare for something that will probably never happen? I don’t know about you, but there’s a limit to the amount of money I’m going to pay for insurance, and the “insurance” (in the form of military spending, just in case something happens) that Stein advocates is very expensive. Or maybe it’s Ben Stein’s plan to bankrupt the United States by goading it into excessive military spending, like the USSR.

And on the subject of Ben Stein’s dishonesty, here’s one from the Scientific American podcast – where he quotes Charles Darwin out of context to make him sound like a Nazi.

Update: the Bad Astronomer (via TheFriendlyAtheist) points out this Ben Stein quote:

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.

Lovely. Science = bad. Scientists = nazis. Time to defend Western Civilization against these nutjobs.

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April 22nd will be the first anniversary of this blog. The very first post? The Barber and the Barb. I’ll be out of town this week, which is why I’m writing this now – on the 21st.

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Researchers hunting for new antibiotics might get some aid from gator blood. Scientists are zeroing in on snippets of proteins found in American alligator blood that kill a wide range of disease-causing microbes and bacteria, including the formidable MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Previous experiments have revealed that gator blood extract cripples many human pathogens, including E. coli, the herpes simplex virus and some strains of the yeast Candida albicans. The serum’s antimicrobial power probably derives from protein bits called peptides. Widespread among reptiles and amphibians, several such germ-fighting peptides have been isolated from the skin of frogs in recent years… ( Link )

Whenever I read stories like this, I just can’t help but think about the origins of humankind. Looking through the human genome, it becomes clear that our DNA is fully ape plus the addition of some mutations spread throughout the genome. Theoretically, a divine creator could’ve created humankind as an amalgamation of superior animal traits (like adding some of the the immune system traits found in alligators). I’ve read that camels have a similarly unusual immune system that might make it over to human medicine:

Antibodies, often described as magic bullets, are actually more like tanks: big, complicated and expensive. Tinier “nanobodies,” derived from camels and llamas, may be able to infiltrate a wider range of diseases at lower cost. That is the hope, at least, of one small start-up in Belgium. (Link)

But instead of our “divine creator” inserting these enhanced traits into the “pinnacle of creation”, our genome is just a few percent different from chimpanzees, with no obvious insertions of any additional traits (which would be difficult to explain from an evolutionary perspective). Like I said earlier, there are no chimeras.

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Heh. This is funny:

We receive a lot of hate email here at Feministing, and this one was too good not to share.

Men are better than women look at the comparison in IQ men are scientifically proven to have a higher IQ by roughly 5 points, or 5% you cannot dispute science sorry and if you want a much better website than your shitty one you might want to go to [redacted]. I think you would gain a lot more knowledge from that website and you might learn about the truth that way you would not be so stupid and ignorant you stupid cunts.

Apparently that extra five percent doesn’t help prevent run-on sentences. You would also think that those extra brain power percentage points would stop a dude from sending harassing emails from his school email address. Because then we wouldn’t know that our charming admirer is the public relations officer (yes, public relations) of the Southern Illinois University College Republicans, Alex Kochno. I think I’ll stick with my stupid cunt lady brain, thanks very much.
( Link )

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The BBC has a new article about what happens when Muslims become Christians:

There’s a widespread belief that the penalty for leaving Islam is death – hence, perhaps, the killing of a British teacher last week. But Shiraz Maher believes attitudes may be softening.

Ziya Miral’s parents disowned him when he converted from Islam to Christianity.

“They said ‘go away, you’re not our son.’ They told people I died in an accident rather than having the shame of their son leaving Islam.”

Born and raised in Turkey, he decided to convert to Christianity after moving to university. He knew telling his parents would be a difficult moment even though they’re not particularly observant Muslims, and he planned to break the news to them gently.

In the end, events overtook him. Before heading back to Turkey for the holidays, Ziya briefly visited a Christian summer camp where he was filmed eating a bowl of spaghetti.

The first his parents heard of his conversion was when they saw Ziya on the national news being described as “an evil missionary” intent on “brainwashing” Turkish children.

(Yesh – the Turkish national news described him as an “an evil missionary” intent on “brainwashing” Turkish children?)

Those renouncing their faith for atheism or agnosticism are viewed in a similar way to those who adopt another faith.

A poll conducted by the Policy Exchange last year suggested that over a third of young British Muslims believe that the death penalty should apply for apostasy.

The whole article is worth a read.

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Ha ha. How ridiculous.

NEW YORK (AP) – There’s another side to Alicia Keys: conspiracy theorist. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter tells Blender magazine: “‘Gangsta rap’ was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other. ‘Gangsta rap’ didn’t exist.”

Keys, 27, said she’s read several Black Panther autobiographies and wears a gold AK-47 pendant around her neck “to symbolize strength, power and killing ’em dead,” according to an interview in the magazine’s May issue, on newsstands Tuesday.

Another of her theories: That the bicoastal feud between slain rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. was fueled “by the government and the media, to stop another great black leader from existing.”

Keys’ AK-47 jewelry came as a surprise to her mother, who is quoted as telling Blender: “She wears what? That doesn’t sound like Alicia.” Keys’ publicist, Theola Borden, said Keys was on vacation and unavailable for comment.

Though she’s known for her romantic tunes, she told Blender that she wants to write more political songs. If black leaders such as the late Black Panther Huey Newton “had the outlets our musicians have today, it’d be global. I have to figure out a way to do it myself,” she said. (Source)

Funny that she blames gangsta rap on a government/media conspiracy, but then wears an AK-47 necklace. These kinds of stories makes me miss “Rainbow Soul” – an Black internet talk radio station that I would occasionally listen to — for its unintentional entertainment value, kinda like Coast-to-Coast AM, except tailored for Black people. They played up the racist conspiracy angle or various types of “woo” quite a bit. I had actually planned on recording a bit of it and doing a blog post about it a while back, but then they took it off free internet radio (you have to pay for it now).

A quick look at the Rainbow Soul shows should give you a taste though. Admittedly, some of the shows are normal, but many of them really are this hokey. I feel bad for people getting advice from these shows – it’s like getting directions from someone holding the map upsidedown.

Heal Thyself with Queen Afua
Queen Afua is a nationally renowned herbalist, wholistic health specialist and dedicated healer of women’s bodies and souls, who practices from a uniquely Afrocentric spiritual perspective. Through her work as a Certified Colon therapist, polarity practitioner, Hatha Yoga and Ari Ankh Ka (Ancient Afrikan Yoga / Movements) Instructor, lay midwife and fasting specialist, she has guided thousands of women and men coast to coast in the art and science of Natural Living.
An initiate of the Shrine of Ptah and Chief Khamitic Priestess of Purification in the Temple of Nebt-Het (an ancient Afrikan order) in New York City, Queen Afua is the Founder, Director, and Spiritual Guide to the Global Sacred Woman Village Center.

What’s Ailing America? with Dr. Rebecca Carley
On her journey to becoming an awakened allopath, her most disturbing revelation was the realization that there is an epidemic of disease of the immune systems, or immunopathies, caused by vaccinations. This led her to begin a new specialty; VIDS: Vaccine Induced Disease Syndromes. She teaches her patients how to heal themselves, and uses homeopathy and other natural products with no side effects to detoxify the vaccinations and other immune system assaulters… She is successfully reversing the epidemic of autoimmune diseases (such as autism, ADD, learning disabilities, asthma, lupus psoriasis, allergies, etc.), as well as cancer with the Hippokrates protocol she has developed.

An Insight To You with Dora Jones
Tune in and just listen and feel. Use her viable words for daily living step by step as she guides you using numerology and astrology to chart your spiritual destiny and mission in life…answers to why am I here?

Conscious Rasta with Keidi Awadu
Books by Keidi Obi Awadu
• Vaccines: An Ounce of Prevention or a Pound of Death? (1996)
• Mind Control (1996)
• Prisons: The Lockdown of Black (America’s Future) (1996)
• Epidemic: The Rise of New Childhood Diseases in the U.S. (1997)
• Rap, Hip Hop & the New World Order (“This shocking report documents how a complex government operation penetrated hip hop music to its core in order to cause confusion among urban youth.”) (1997)
• The Technology of Control (“The computer revolution has created a myriad of new methods of controlling us and suppressing our true will. We cover lasers, microwaves, spy satellites, microchips, cameras all around, and various other forms of The Technology of Control.”) (1997)
• Busted: The Latex Condom Conspiracy (“Latex condoms cause cancer, sterility, ectopic pregnancy, gender confusion, allergies and we’ve got a solution.”) (1998)
• AIDS: The Establishment Confesses (It’s A Hoax!) (1998)
• High Crimes of Murder (1998)
• The Road to Power: Seven Steps to an African Global Order (1999)

It’s too bad they didn’t find any space in their schedule for the Infidel Guy or Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

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Logging into my facebook account today, I noticed that one of my friends has subscribed to something called the “Reasonable Doubts” podcast. That sounds like a skeptics podcast, and I had no idea she had any skeptical leanings. Sure enough, here’s the description:

Reasonable Doubts takes an informative and humorous look at religion from a freethinking perspective–offering news and commentary of interest to skeptics, atheists, agnostics, humanists, courageous religious believers looking for a challenge and freethinkers of all persuasions. In addition to interviewing the top minds in skepticism (former guests include Paul Kurtz, Susan Jacoby, Edward Tabash, Taner Edis, DJ Grothe) RD offers regular segments on counter-apologetics, biblical criticism, creationism and intelligent design as well as church state issues. RD also examines the psychology of religion, reviewing recent and exciting research you won’t hear about anywhere else. Tune in for a hard-hitting critique of religion balanced by fair-mindedness and a commitment critical thinking. Check out our website at http://www.doubtcast.org for information, episode links or to email questions, comments and challenges.

Looking a little deeper, and I discovered that her husband is one of the co-hosts of the podcast. I had no idea.

Here’s some links: Google, podcast feed

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