Monday, October 16, 2017

Taking a Knee is not Disrespectful to the Flag! It is an Expression of the Right of Free Speech Guaranteed by the US Constitution!

I am a 20-year Veteran of the USAF and have expressed my opinion on the whole 'kneeling during the National Anthem' several times.  I came across this and decided it expressed my feelings in a much better way that anything I personally said.  I did not originate the following, but after reading it, there was only one thing for me to do:

You probably guessed it:
The top image copied from a Facebook post.  I couldn't find the original, so if anyone has that information, I would love to be able to credit the source.  It mentions a Navy Veteran 'Dan A.'.  Great Job Dan A.!

The bottom image was from 'Know Your Meme' website.  I simply really liked this image and thought it was better than just saying "Boom, Mic Drop!"

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Does Appearance = Fact? Only If You Refuse to Engage the Brain!

In a recent post I commented on the following quote.  It's from an announcement post by the Discovery Institute (DI) about a new group joining their Intelligent Design Network in Colorado:

"In other words, the fact that the world appears to be designed is a testament to the truth that it is, in fact, designed." (The Announcement)
I wanted to expand on it a bit. One of my peeves about the quote is the idea that if something 'appears', then it must be as it appears. I listed a few examples in my previous post (And There is Still Nothing Religious about Intelligent Design) where that isn't the case.  You cannot reliably assume that the appearance of anything is the fact of that same thing.

This quote is a paraphrase from the guest speaker,Doug Axe, for this new group's first meeting.  I've spoken about Doug before, about his book "Undeniable" (Design Intuition . . . is that really a Thing?), which certainly doesn't live up to its title.  All it takes is one example of someone's intuition not being accurate, that makes intuition easily deniable!  The tack Dougie is on is trying to sell people on the idea that their intuition is as valid and useful a way of making determinations about any subject as anything else, such as scientific investigation.  Here is a quote that states what they want to sell pretty clearly:
"We don't need to rely slavishly on what scientists say because, in an important sense, we are all scientists, capable of judging a big scientific idea like evolution, if not necessarily the technical details, for ourselves." (More Scientists Praise Douglas Axe's Undeniable)
Harvard Business School has an interesting way of raising some issues about 'Intuition'. At this site: (Test Yourself: Are You Being Tricked by Intuition?). The article briefly discusses that people generally use two 'systems' for processing information, they call them System 1 and System 2 . . . I know, silly names, but the point is that System 1 is an intuitive approach, System 2 is when you think about it before making a judgement.  In general System 1 is used when we either don't have time to think things through, or are unwilling -- for whatever reason -- to think things through.  They make this comment:
"Of course, it's easier to simply rely on our intuitions than to bother to check them, but performing that check can improve the quality of our judgments and choices."
So what the DI is really asking you to do is to not think things through.  It's as simple as that.  They do not want you to think, they want you to rely on your intuition about a subject, intuition that can easily be led astray by appearances.

Don't tell me, but think about it, can you think of a situation where your intuition about something or someone let you down?  If you want, go ahead and comment here about it.  I'll tell you one:
One of my favorite people is a lady who I will call 'Mary'.  I didn't work with Mary, but would pass her office two or three times a day.  She looked to be considerably younger than myself, dark hair with a streak of dark red in it, and dressed most often in black and other dark colors.  My intuition said 'goth', or as near as you can get in this particular workplace.  Now this wasn't a negative thing, I just never bothered taking the time to do more than pass by. 
That changed one day when she sneezed.  I know, pretty silly, but you should have seen it.  I was carrying a cup of ice and a soda coming up on a corner.  She was just about to come around the corner from the opposite direction when she sneezed.  There was no warning, no inhalation, no sound telling me someone was there, just this sharp, and loud sneeze.  She startled the hell out of me -- I didn't drop my drink, but it was close.  The two of us laughed about it and talked for the first time. 
What I discovered was a lady older than my estimation, with an incredible sense of humor, a hair trigger on her bullshit meter, and someone who shared a surprising number of the same interests as myself.  I got into the habit of stopping by her cubicle at least once a day to talk for a few minutes, share some news, pass on a joke or pictures.  She even got along with my granddaughter over a shared appreciation for a Gothic version of Barbie called 'Monster High'.  OK, I didn't say we had everything in common, just a surprising amount. 
My intuition failed me when I pigeon-holed her as someone with whom I would have little in common.  What I ended up with is a friend!  I don't work in that area any longer, so we don't see each other that often.  But we do have lunch on occasion and email/text each other often.
That's only one example.  I'm sure you can think of many others for yourself, I know I can!  Anyone reading this a gambler?  I love to play poker and the number of times my intuition has let me down is why I do not make a living as a professional poker player!  One of my uncles likes to play the ponies, in fact he took me on my first ever visit to Aqueduct in NY.  His 'intuition' was also why he didn't make a living picking horses!

Our intuition rarely helps us make good decisions!  Yes, it does sometimes, but not as often as you might think.  I know someone reading this will probably come up with more than one occasion when their intuition was dead on, but I want to raise two points about that.

First of all, how did you know your intuition was right?  It was after you used System 1 and started thinking about things (System 2), wasn't it?  You had to think about things, gain some experience with whatever, or whomever, you intuited about and come to a conclusion based on more than just your intuition, didn't you?  You had to go further to reach a point of deciding your intuition was correct, but do you always get that chance or even take that opportunity?  So in the end, it's not that your intuition was correct, but you had to rely on something other than your intuition, didn't you?  You might remember the times when your first instinct about something was correct, but do you really remember all the times when it was not?  Be honest, at least with yourself!  I know when my intuition fails, I don't blame my intuition, I simply move on and rarely consider it.

My second point is buried in my story about 'Mary'.  If I hadn't gotten to know her, I would have left that job believing that my intuition was correct, if I gave her any thought at all.  I would have no idea how wrong I was because we would have never interacted.  How often do you really get your intuition confirmed or denied?  That's something you have to consider.  Often we never go past our intuitive judgment for any number of reasons, possible time or simply circumstances don't allow it.  You assume your intuition was correct, not because it is correct, but because you have this inflated view of your intuition because it may never had gotten tested.

Have you ever been disappointed in a meal at a restaurant?  Especially trying a dish or a new restaurant for the first time?  You go to a new place because of your intuition.  Maybe you heard some good things, read a good review, or someone you know said something about it.  You have no first-hand knowledge so you go there based on what, a hunch?  Usually it works out OK, not often spectacular, but OK.  Sometimes you are severely disappointed.  You go from your belief to actual knowledge and come to a final decision.  There are a number of places I will never set foot in again!  I'm sure you know a few yourself!  In those rare cases when the results are spectacular, you pat yourself on the back for 'knowing' it was going to be good -- but reaching that conclusion wasn't intuitive, but based on actual experience.  It could have just as easily gone to other way.  Intuition is a crap-shoot.

One last story of how my intuition nearly cost me a terrific job opportunity:
I was working as a government contractor for a small company and the contract was re-competed and awarded to a different company.  I had contact with several people from that company previously and I was less than impressed.  It wasn't their technical skills, but their religious beliefs.  Yes the three I had contact with were very narrow-minded evangelicals who made damn sure everyone around them knew it and kept trying to preach to everyone around them -- often whining about their religious freedom when the government supervisors would basically tell them to knock it off!  I even wrote a little about one of them here.  You can imagine how well that goes over with me!
Well, I very nearly didn't go to my interview because my impression of the company was colored by these three religious nut jobs and because I had already had a couple of other very promising interviews, so I wasn't worried about continuous employment.  However, since I had already made the appointment, I went and it resulted in a pretty terrific job for a pretty terrific company -- I stayed there many years longer than any of the religious idiots!  To give you an idea of how good the interview went, I even raised my concern over the three amigos to the owner of the company, and he handled that part of the discussion in a very professional manner!  I was impressed.  I would have missed out if I let my intuition guide me.
There is my problem with this whole argument from the DI.  They want you to stop thinking, to take everything at face value, because that's all they have.  They have no real science, they have made no scientific advances, they have nothing but their religious beliefs and they certainly do not want anyone 'thinking' about those beliefs.  They want you to make decisions based on your religious beliefs and fight anyone who wants and expects you to think!

Intuition is fine when you have to make a snap judgment occasionally, but as a regular part of your decision making, I would encourage you to think more often.  I would also encourage you to consider careful any calls that want you to stop thinking!  When they want you to disengage the brain is when you should rev it up into high gear and think even harder!  Odds are someone is trying to hide something from you.  In the DI's case, the sheer vacuous nature of their arguments.

I want to toss one more thought.  The DI uses one tactic where they claim to not want to push Intelligent Design, but to engage students with 'critical thinking' to show the weaknesses in Evolutionary Theory.  I believe this whole intuition argument shows you how that critical thinking tactic has failed, because when you think critically about ID, you find there is nothing there!  So now they switch gears and don't want you to think at all.  Interesting, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

And There is Still Nothing Religious about Intelligent Design

The Discovery Institute is bragging about a new member of their 'network'. The first was in Houston, the new one is in Colorado. Aside from each of those groups seeking donations, there is something I wanted to point out. First from the Houston group:

"We meet monthly in various churches across the greater Houston area on a rotating basis." (their About page)
and this form the latest announcement of their second group:
"the chapter will hold its first public event: at Colorado Christian University" (The Announcement)
Anyone notice what I noticed?   Houston meets in various churches and the first meeting of Colorado is in a Christian University.  And yet the DI continually claims there is nothing religious about Intelligent Design, that it's based on science.  Really?

If it were really science, would you ever hear a real scientist claiming this:
"In other words, the fact that the world appears to be designed is a testament to the truth that it is, in fact, designed."
It's from their Announcement of this new group.  So when something 'appears' that is 'a fact', seriously?  Let's look at a few examples:
  • So just because that cup of coffee 'appears' cool enough to drink, it is 'in fact' cool enough to drink?  Anyone else ever burn the heck out of your mouth on a hot drink before?  
  • Just because someone 'appears' to be trustworthy, you can 'in fact' trust them with your children?
  • Movie trailers make movies look entertaining, anyone else ever walk out of a movie because it was so incredibly bad?  I have walked out of three, but there have been others that I walked out of quite disappointed!
  • So . . . when I look at a picture of one of the DI fellows and I think that he, or she, 'looks' like a moron, they are in fact a moron?
There is a very old saying "Appearances can be Deceiving", but apparently the DI doesn't subscribe to that saying.  I have said for years that the DI takes the appearance of design as the fact of design, but this is one of the few times they explicitly stated it outright.

You know, for a second I was temping to offer the DI as an example of 'appearances can be deceiving', but they do not appear to be a scientific organization.  They do appear to be a religious ministry, and, for a change, their appearance is dead on.  However, that judgment is not made based solely on their appearance.  Therein lies the difference between the DI and the real world.

We don't judge books by their cover, we read the book and then make a judgment.  We don't judge the DI by its appearance as a religious ministry, we judge it by its actions, and those actions show that for all their posturing, they are a religious ministry.

How to Ruin Halloween!

Little kennie ham, the purveyor of multiple pseudo-Christian ministries (Answers in Genesis, the Ark Park, and the Creation 'museum') is trying to take any fun out of Halloween. In a post over on his blog, "Sharing Christ with Trick-or-Treaters" and offers his view on how 'trick or treating' should happen. He wants you to:

  • Buy one of his booklets to hand out instead of candy (A Biblical and Historical Look at Halloween)
  • Or try "reverse-trick-or-treating" when you bring a basket of goodies to bless your neighbors. Include a gospel booklet with your home-baked or store-bought treats. 
  • Have a family discussion about this day with a DVD (Halloween, Paganism, and the Bible), it's by the same guy who wrote the booklet 
  • Get kennie's “Halloween Learn and Share Kit”, which includes the previously mentioned booklet and DVD and also two different kinds of dollar-bill sized tracts.
Yes, each and every one of his alternatives to costumes and candy involve purchasing something from his store.  He's not just after having others do his preaching, he wants you to pay him for the privilege!

I enjoy Halloween, I always have.  It's one of my favorite holidays.  The best part is all the kids coming to the front door.  The costumes are terrific and it's just plain fun!  When my daughters were younger, trick or treating was usually limited to 2 hours.  For the first hour they would go trick or treating and for the second hour they would help us give out candy to the other kids.  They loved both parts and, to this day, still love it as much as I do.

My local town has a Halloween Parade and several stores filled with Halloween accompaniments.  We decorate inside and out, in fact this weekend we'll be putting up some lights, spiders and webbing, and corn stalks.  The evening before trick or treating my daughter, granddaughter, and I will be hand carving several pumpkins.  The next evening we will thoroughly enjoy giving out candy and seeing the incredible costumes and cutest kids!

I choose not to preach to those kids and their families.  I have no idea what religion they might be, so assuming they would even welcome preaching is hubris personified.  But we know why kennie wants us all to preach his party line -- he doesn't accept any religion but his own.  Remember his 'World Religion Conference'?  He advertised it as:
"Join us for the World Religions Conference July 24-27 and please share this with friends and family members who might be interested.More than ever, Christians need to know what other religions believe and then learn how to reach the lost souls mired in them." (World Religion Conference)
Did you note the phrase 'how to reach lost souls mired in them [religions other than his own].  So he doesn't even recognize that people coming to his door might not appreciate preaching his narrow viewpoint.  I pretty much can picture what will happen next year, if I did as kennie wants -- very few kids coming to the door!  The kids might not remember, but I am pretty sure the parents will.  Having a light on won't make much difference, the neighborhood kids will avoid my house!  Following kennie's suggestions would only ruin a perfectly fun holiday.  Little kennie's not going to ruin this holiday!

I am sorta curious if anyone bothers to go to kennie's house for Halloween?   I wonder what his house looks like, probably something more on the order of a mansion, like many other Evangelical preacher's homes.  So I bet you don't even get past the gate.

In closing I have to post this.  It has nothing to do with kennie and his whining.  It's just cute.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pence uses his Rights in a Protest of NFL Players who He Refuses to Grant the Same Rights

So the Vice-President walked out of the Indianapolis Colts-San Francisco 49'er game this weekend.  That's the only fact around this story that seems true.  There are three other stories revolving around it that I find amusing.

First of all Pence claimed responsibility and tweeted:

Then his boss, that hamster-haired serial liar and misogynist control freak tried to take the credit and tweeted:

However, NBC's  Peter Alexander is reporting that Pence's walkout was pre-planned because he had every intention of leaving early.
So exactly what was going on?  I see it as planned political grandstanding and doing nothing more than throwing gasoline on a fire.  This certainly seemed staged to me.  Pence, and pretty much the rest of the world, knew some of the players would be on their knees.  So claiming to have left because of it is just grandstanding, especially when you give the Press a heads-up before going into the stadium.  He knew damn well some players would be kneeling and he wanted the Press in the right spot so he could make his statement -- probably had it all written up and ready to go.  I would have thought refusing to attend the game would have been a better statement -- not a good one, but better than staging a political stunt, especially how much that stunt probably cost the American Taxpayer -- early estimates are looking at about $250K when you factor in the travel and all the security.

And all this from a politician who was preaching unity just days ago at a speech.  That's the gasoline.  Pence, and his Overlord, do not want unity, they want control!  They want everyone not only doing what they say, but cheering them on even if what they are doing violates the Constitution of the United States.  Apparently those Oaths they took mean little to them!  Disagreeing with them means you should be silenced, called a 'son of a bitch', and fired -- even though your protest did not violate any laws, contracts, or even NFL rules.

Now, I have two opinions.  The first you probably already know about.  Since those protests are an example of a guaranteed right given by the US Constitution, Pence should have sat his ass down and enjoyed the game and, if asked, he should have re-iterated those rights.  But that would be reasonable and even something that might have gone a long way in healing the divisiveness this issue has caused.  But the high road seems to be too much to expect from him or his boss.

My second opinion is if those players do not have the right to protest, then what gave Pence the right to walk out in protest himself?  I find that insults every fan who was present in that stadium!  Why are his actions cheered by some?  Why wasn't he silenced, called a 'son of a bitch' and threatened with firing?

If he had the ethics we would like our elected officials to have, he would resign rather than allow the US Constitution to be violated.  But again, that's the high road, and I am not sure he or his boss knows what that means.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

So You Want To Know What's Wrong With Religion? (7)

Caught this little gem from the Sensuous Curmudgeon, one of the blogs I read quite religiously (pun intended), "Creation alone!", by an Aaron Swartzentruber.  It's hilarious!  Here is his opening:

"Athiests or evolutionists who flat out reject God and Creation is one thing, God have mercy on them and open their blind eyes, but what is worse yet is that there are now many “professing Christians” who are trying to mingle evolution with creation."
Aside from misspelling 'Atheist', I started immediately wondering about his justification for assuming anyone who agree with evolution is an atheist or all atheists agree with evolution, but the rest of the opening made me realize his real target are the multitude of Christians who understand and support real science and real science education.

This guy is setting himself up as the one who gets to decide who is a 'real' Christian and who is not.  Doesn't he know little kennie ham keeps trying for that job himself.  Maybe we will get a pseudo-Christian cage match!  I guess the over 13,900 signatures of Christian Clergy supporting the science of evolution and the teaching of such science to our child just burns his ass!

The rest of his letter is a mix of Bible quotes with him interspersing his own take on what it all means.  Did you ever heard the phrase "There are liars, damned liars, and statisticians"?  What it means is that when you take a set of data, you can often twist it to mean whatever you want it to mean.  Religion is like that as well.  Let's jumble a bunch of Biblical reference, ignore the ones we don't like and force them into a narrow viewpoint that we demand everyone follow.  So how many religions are there that do that and conflict with each other over and over again?  How about all of them!  Even those who use the same starting point, like the Bible.

His final paragraph starts with this line:
"If you are one of those who are mingling evolution with creation, you are doing the Devil’s work and I would be doing you, and God, a disservice to tell you otherwise"
Obviously he doesn't see anyone who doesn't agree with his incredibly narrow viewpoint to be an actual Christian (have to mention again the over 13,900 Christian clergy who disagree with Aaron).  Of course if you look at the claims of the Bible of what Jesus taught, Aaron here wouldn't be a real Christian either.  But he's managed to convince himself that he's doing us all a favor by telling us this.

No, he's not doing me any favors because I don't share his narrow views and I will never share his narrow views!  Apparently the majority of the world doesn't share it either!  But do you think he would listen to anything resembling an opposing view!  Yea, neither do I!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

So You Want To Know What's Wrong With Religion? (6)

The other night we had a horrific event occur in Las Vegas.  You don't need me to go into any details, they are being covered in the news.  At last count 58 dead and over 500 injured.  So what does this have to do with religion?

Immediately after the news broke, several of the more right-wing Conservatives groups had already decided that Muslim Extremists did it.

"Conservative media personality Wayne Allyn Root tweeted to his nearly 110,000 followers that there were shots fired at multiple hotels in a "coordinated Muslim terror attack."
Twitter has exploded with all sorts of hoaxes concerning the shooting, including posting photos of a soccer player, porn star, and comedian as the culprits.  The right started pointing at the left, the left started pointing at the right, White Supremacists cheered for some reason, while the rest of the Nation wept and NRA supporters started huddling on how to mitigate new calls for any form of gum control.  But what does this have to do with religion?

Well, once again people like Pat Robertson saw the news, you know he couldn't let the opportunity to get his face in front of a camera. "Pat Robertson Blames Vegas Shooting on Lack of Respect for Donald Trump and God".  Of course you have to ask yourself what about all the mass shootings before a certain hamster-haired serial lying and misogynist got him self elected, but that would be like asking for Robertson to provide facts, and we know how little he likes facts.

Remember when he 'warned' residents of Dover PA:
"that disaster may strike there because they 'voted God out of your city' by removing school board members who favored teaching intelligent design. (Fox News, 2005)
Or how about when he and Jerry Falwell said that
"liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, pagans, homosexuals, and abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility for the terrorist attacks on the USA because their actions have turned God’s anger against America." (I couldn't find the original link, but this link works: Snopes confirmed this story is True)
From little kennie ham's Facebook page:
"Tragic massacre in Las Vegas, extended adolescence, churches affected by hurricanes banned from receiving Federal Aid, and more in this week's episode of Answers News hosted at the Creation Museum in front of a live audience." (Facebook video)
Yes, they are using this, and other tragedies, for a pseudo-news.  I have no plan to watch or listen, but how much would you like to wager that it's all the fault of people who refuse to buy into his spiel?  Any takers?

This isn't limited to Pat Robertson or little kennie -- other religious mouthpieces are, or soon will be, blaming the declining church attendance, support for marriage equality, abortion and/or any other thing narrow-minded theists whine about for the shooting in Las Vegas, hurricanes, floods, wildfires -- or any other natural or man-made disaster that strikes their fancy.  It's just another platform for them to try and build support, get more followers, and take in more donations so they can continue to live in a lifestyle denied to the majority of their followers.

And you wonder what's wrong with religion? These are pretty bad, but here is the one that I agree with The Friendly Atheist, is the worst . . . yes, even worse than Robertson.
"This Mormon Wrote the Worst Response (So Far) to the Las Vegas Shooting"
The response was posted on the Facebook page of a practicing Mormon, shared only with his friends, but screenshots of the comment were posted on other pages. Check this one out:
Yes, blame the victims for not believe in the exact same way you do!  How incredibly pathetic is that?  So does anyone believe that if the concert had been scheduled for a different day of the week, the shooter wouldn't have attacked?  Neither do I!  We don't even know if the concert on that particular day was his deliberate target, or simply just one of opportunity.  You know, now that I think about it, I would have been very wary tweeting something like this, it means that the shooter was a member of your particular religion -- is that a connection you want? 

I think we need to let the investigation go forward and reserve blame judgments until we have an idea of what drove this attack.  In the meantime, offer your thoughts to the victims and their families, and if you can, offer other forms of support.  I donated platelets and plasma today.  I don't know if they will help anyone in Vegas, but I do know if a Las Vegas hospital called, my local community blood center will respond.  They have in the past!

So, my final message is ignore these religious nut-jobs and go do something concrete, like donating blood!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Is Michael Behe a Revolutionary Scientist? I Don't Think That Word Means What The DI Thinks It Means!

The Discovery Institute (DI) has a fun, but very misleading post.  The title says a great deal: "Charles Darwin, Michael Behe — Two Revolutionary Scientists"  Really, comparing the relatively unknown -- outside of Lehigh University and Intelligent Design circles -- with someone who truly revolutionized Science.

Michael Behe is one of the few actual scientists on the staff at the Discovery Institute.  He likes to write books and even testified during the Dover Trial -- where he got torn to shreds.  You can read the transcripts for yourself, but when:

  • Behe had to redefine science to claim his ideas are scientific.
  • When presented with over 50 books and articles refuting his ideas, Behe claimed that it was not enough.
  • Did not do any of the scientific work to support his ideas, nor did he know of anyone else who was doing such work.
You get the point?  Behe might be one of the few actual scientists at the DI, but he does them little good other than as a rallying cry.  How many times has the DI pointed to him claiming that "See we have scientists too!"  And yet does Lehigh even let him teach his ideas as part of his biology classes?  This is part of The Lehigh Biology Department's Statement on Evolution and Intelligent Design:
"The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of "intelligent design." While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific."
So even Lehigh treats Behe's irreducible complexity idea as nothing more than his opinion and not scientifically valid.  OK, so let's look at the post and see if they say anything new.  Sure doesn't look like it.  Oh look, a quote-mine:
" “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” "
This is a very common issue with Creationists.  They love this quote  from Charles Darwin and frequently screw it up.  How you might ask?   By itself it makes it sound like Darwin himself is doubting his own theory . . . but they drop the very next line:
"But I can find out no such case."
Certainly changes the context of the quote, doesn't it?  When you read the whole quote, including the line they like to drop, you realize that isn't so.  Darwin isn't express doubt at all.  So I guess the next question is "Has anyone found such a case to be true?"

Obviously the answer is 'No!'  Behe's own 'work' has been torn apart on numerous occasions.  But the DI is offering a 'list of essays' that claim Behe's idea of 'Irreducible Complexity' has not been refuted.  Take a look at that list and you might see something more than a little suspicious.  Did you see it?

Let me repeat something I said earlier when I first mentioned Michael Behe, I called him:
"relatively unknown, outside of Lehigh University and Intelligent Design circles "
Look at the authors of all those essays, do the names look familiar?  Yes,  members of the DI and proponents of ID one and all:
  • Michael Behe himself, which shouldn't be a surprise.  He's a DI Senior Fellow.
  • little casey luskin, (lawyer) who spent the Dover Trial handing out pamphlets.  He was never a Fellow, but he working in the PR department before departing the DI.
  • Wild Bill Dembski (philosopher and mathematician), who has since broken away from the DI, another Senior Fellow at the DI.
  • The infamous Paul Nelson (philosopher ), each April 7th is called  Paul Nelson Day, the anniversary of Nelson’s so far unfulfilled promise to provide a detailed exposition of “ontogenetic depth.”, a promise he made in 2003.  Paul's a 'fellow' according to Wikipedia.
  • Bruce Chapman (journalist and politician), one of the founders of the DI
  • Stephen C. Meyer (philosophy and historian),  another founder and currently one of the directors of the DI
Yes, we can see for yourself that outside his little circle of friends, none of whom are actual scientists, there isn't anything to support Michael Behe's ideas . . . and yet the DI wants to put him on the same pedestal as Darwin?

Let me give you the first part of the Lehigh's Statement now:
"The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others."
 I underlined part of the last line to illustrate the difference between Behe and Darwin.  Which one of them has defined scientifically valid theories that is a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and whose findings have been replicated by hundreds, if not thousands, of other scientists?  I'll give you one guess and his initials are not 'MB'.

Friday, September 29, 2017

So You Want to Know What's Wrong with Religion? (5)

So, how many children have to die because of their parents, or caregivers, religious beliefs?  I know what the answer should be -- Zero!  But apparently there are still all to many parents who refuse medical treatment for their children because of their religious beliefs.

"'God ... makes no mistakes': Warned baby could die, couple rejected treatment, police say"
They just happen to live in a state that doesn't offer them a 'get-out-of-jail' card for those beliefs.  The parents are being charged with involuntary manslaughter.  Personally, I am not sure of the 'involuntary' part, I think the charge should be murder.

I am no lawyer, but Involuntary Manslaughter means that there was no malice or forethought about the death.  I disagree!  That child suffered for several days before dying and at nearly any point prior to death, one trip to the Emergency Room could have saved that baby.  Each and every day they made a conscious decision to not provide medical care for their child.  This to me is forethought.  Of course, the longer you wait, the more uphill the battle is, but still have the opportunity to give that child a chance.  With these parent, that child had no chance!  That lack of care should make this at least Second-degree Murder because there is nothing 'involuntary about it.

Don't even bother to tell me that parents suffered enough with the loss of a child.  The child was lost due to their own actions!  I do not and will never sympathize with parents who allowed their child to die from something treatable.  This wasn't some serious disease that struck without warning.  This was jaundice, a fairly common post-birth condition and one treated often.  These parents can't even say they didn't know because they were warned by their mid-wife.

The responsibility for this death lies on their shoulders and I hope Detroit, and the rest of Michigan, hold them accountable!

These parents claim that "God makes no mistakes", well you know my feelings about a deity.  I consider myself an 'Apathist' more than anything else.  But if I do lose Pascal's Wager, the first thing I am going to discuss is the mistake made letting these people become parents!  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Discovery Institute Has a Strange Idea of 'Free Speech'

I really had a hard time reading this foolish post. Little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer is trying to equate the outcry supporting professional football players exercise of their freedom of speech with The Discovery Institute's (DI) desire to teach religion as if it were science in science class! Here is klingy's post: "Freedom on the Football Field – How About in the Science Lab?"

After briefly discussing what's been happening on the football field, klingy says this:

"But I can’t help noticing that many of those suddenly rushing to the barricades for free speech have said nothing about a far more disturbing reality. As we know from years of reporting and hearing from scientists and science instructors in private, the machinery of censorship arrayed against Darwin skeptics is formidable, yet little remarked upon. Most people are hardly aware it exists. Some atheist scientists candidly justify it, or call for more."
Before addressing the idea of censorship, I have to ask, does anyone simply number the DI as a Darwin skeptic?  That is not what the DI is.  They are not simply skeptical of Darwin's work, they are trying to tear down all of science to make it more religious.  Those aren't my words, those are the words from their own guiding document!  Here's a screenshot from it:
These people are not the simple skeptics they call themselves here, but are part of a religious ministry trying to replace actual science.  OK, now on to this idiotic idea they are being censored.

I have to ask what censorship?  Freedom of Speech does not mean you get to publish anything you want, wherever and whenever you want to publish.  If there really was censorship, then would the DI been able to publish their myriad of books, articles, their own pseudo-journals and website postings of their pseudo-scientific concept of Creationism/Intelligent Design?  No!  No one is stopping them from expressing themselves, often to a nauseating level.  They publish everywhere except in the one area where their ideas will be taken seriously as science, scientific journals.

While they like to cite this as an example of censorship, that is very far from the truth.  Scientific journals have scholarship standards, and the Discovery Institute has refused to meet those standards.  I have posted this before, and it still applies:
"Religious studies professor examines Intelligent Design academically", Dr. Mark Chancey, Chair of the Religious Studies Department at SMU said:
"Many religious groups-Christian and other-do not regard evolutionary theory as a threat. For many people of faith, science and religion go hand in hand. When scholars criticize ID, they are not attacking religion. They are only asking ID proponents to be transparent in their agenda, accurate about their representations of scholarship, and willing to play by the same rules of peer review and quality control that legitimate scholars and scientists around the world follow every day."
Little klingy, it's not censorship keeping you relegated to the popular press and religious imprints for your publishing, but your own refusal to be transparent in your scholarship and follow the same methodology actual scientists follow for publications.  If your Freedom of Expression was really being abridged, then where you currently publish would be closed to you as well.  But I can walk down the Christian section in my local book store and see many of your books.  The fact I cannot find them in the Science section isn't censorship, but the testament to what your books represent.

Little klingy ends with this:
"In biology as in cosmology, an ultimate question is at stake: the origin of life and of the universe, with many vital issues downstream from that, including ethics and the meaning of being human. I’m not aware of any comparable stakes in the game of football. Yet about Darwinist censorship you won’t hear a peep across a vast swath of the media, including writers who are currently standing, or kneeling, in solidarity with the pampered athletes, beset by a “troubling assault on free speech.” Pardon me while I gag on the irony."
The only irony is reading this foolishness in which you misdirect and try to redefine the concept of the freedom of speech.  As I said, Free Speech does not mean scientific journals are required to remove their standards of scholarship just so you can publish in their journals!  Free Speech does not mean you can demand a place at the science classroom lectern!

Follow the actual scientific methodology, use real peer-review -- not your bastardized version of it -- and address the actual critiques instead of simply dismissing them.  If you would do these things, you may actually get published in real scientific journals and be taken seriously by scientists as scientists.  But your refusal sends a very different message, one requiring you to use tactics such as imaginary censorship.  But if you did follow the rules of science, that would mean you will have to support your religion with more than just wishful thinking and unsupported conjecture.

To the DI, you need to remember that real science demands evidence.  Failing to provide such evidence is what keeps the you in the religious corner of the bookstore.  It's not censorship keeping you out of the science classroom and scientific journals, but your own continuous failure to provide any evidence.  The real question isn't are you being censored, but is your failure an unwillingness to play by the rules of scientific methodology, or the inability to do so.