Sunday, July 31, 2011

Are Perry's opinions really so newsworthy?

As I've mentioned a time or two, I have Google News alerts set up on a number of things. I find it very convenient, especially on some items that tends to have news posted only on rare occasions. For example the David Coppedge lawsuit. Months can go by without a single item of news. It would be so easy to miss it, so I have an alert set up. What an alert means is that you can get a link to stories about the topic in your mailbox. The downside of the alerts is many of the articles might have the keywords you are interested in, but be on entirely different subjects. The other problem is sometimes the same story is reported from a number of links, so you might get many hits on the same subject.

The Associated Press ran a short article on Texas Gov Rick Perry in which he supports a Federal Marriage Amendment -- in other words a Constitutional amendment mandating marriage is between a man and a woman only. "Perry backs a constitutional limit on gay marriage" Funny how this was also the article where he said social issues should be decided state by state. Isn't this a social issue?

OK, he also made a few evolutionary comments:

  • "There are clear indications from our people who have amazing intellectual capability that this didn't happen by accident and a creator put this in place," Perry said.
  • "Now, what was his time frame and how did he create the earth that we know? I'm not going to tell you that I've got the answers to that," Perry said.
  • "I believe that we were created by this all-powerful supreme being and how we got to today versus what we look like thousands of years ago, I think there's enough holes in the theory of evolution to, you know, say there are some holes in that theory."
Hmmm, OK, my first point is does any of this come as a surprise? Perry has clearly been well ensconced with the conservative right. It's the constituency who has elected him 3 times to the governorship of Texas. He's the one who has appointed three extremely conservative School Board heads, two of whom failed to get confirmed by the legislature. He's also the one who allowed Chris Comer to be fired for doing her job! So anyone who read this little article should have just shrugged their shoulders and gone on to another section of the paper. In fact you really didn't need to read past the headline.

My second point is interesting, maybe only to me, but early in the article says:
"But Perry told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that a presidential campaign would concentrate on jobs, not evolution or gay marriage."
However when you look at his jobs comments and his anti-evolution comments, where did he spend more time? It wasn't on the jobs! Maybe because he was playing to the audience in South Carolina or maybe because he knows who his core audience is, he can't lay off the social issues. One of my concerns is that he focuses so much on the social issues might be because he has nothing on any other issues! Now that's scary.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Evolution Predicts, Nature publishes and Uncommon Descent Spins

In 1861 the first Archeopteryx was discovered. The feathers and other avian features combined with very specific dinosaur features put Archeopteryx right smack in the middle between modern birds and dinosaurs. In the years since it's position has remained between the two and a great deal of additional evidence linking dinos and birds has been discovered.

Recently Nature magazine published an article about some new discoveries including a fossil called Xiaotingia zhengi which shows that it is very closely related to Archeopteryx. In all honesty didn't evolution predict that there would be numerous steps connecting birds and dinosaurs? It also predicted that Archeopteryx exact position is still unknown, that it might be a directly in the hierarchy or possibly a side branch that eventually went extinct. Well Xiaotingia zhengi appears to have pushed Archeopteryx closer to the dinosaurs, including velociraptor, the 'star' of Jurassic Park. In fact the abstract from Nature says

"Despite only tentative statistical support, this result challenges the centrality of Archaeopteryx in the transition to birds. If this new phylogenetic hypothesis can be confirmed by further investigation, current assumptions regarding the avialan ancestral condition will need to be re-evaluated."
As I read this I saw a perfect example of science in action. We explain based on current knowledge. New discoveries mean new knowledge and an adjustment to current explanations. This is one of the strengths of science!

But, as we know, the folks at Uncommon Descent aren't very scientific, because they are claiming that the whole Bird to Dinosaur idea is a bad idea and needs to wait until there is further research. "David Tyler on rewriting the textbooks on Archaeopteryx – that dinobird, no longer First Bird, downgraded to dinosaur" is the post, you can link to Tyler's article from there if you wish. It includes this as part of his summary:
"Creataceous fossil record shows many features that we do not properly understand, and the most appropriate response is to withhold judgment and await further discoveries and analysis. This applies to the whole of the Birds Are Dinosaurs (BAD) thesis . . ."
So in other words until we have absolutely perfect understanding and 100% perfect data we should just sit on all discoveries. That's crap!

What drives new discoveries? The work of the past. The work we are doing right now will be the impetus to some future archaeologist and paleontologist to take the next step. Tyler is trying to make the scientific process a disadvantage. In reality wherever Archeopteryx ends up in the hierarchy, or if we can someday confirm it as an evolutionary dead-end is immaterial. Yes, as we learn new things we will be adding to textbooks and changing what is in the current texts. I'm pretty sure the medical text of today are quite a bit different than the ones from 1861, why is this suddenly a bad thing?

What we know today will be different than what we know in the future . . . but that in no way invalidates what we know right now! Archeopteryx was positioned based on what we knew. We also know that the evidence that supported that was not static, but subject to new discoveries -- and we readily published that -- so what! We went to the moon with a less than perfect understanding of Gravity, we build cars with a less than perfect knowledge of thermodynamics, we create new medicines and new medical techniques with a less than perfect knowledge of biology. We can only use what we know right now. If we do what Tyler wants we should have never left the cave!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Science and Religion: A View from an Evolutionary Creationist

Dr. James McGrath ("Exploring our Matrix") also linked to "Science and Religion: A View from an Evolutionary Creationist" and a particular post I just have to share: "A few cartoons to brighten your day" My personal favorite was:

It illustrates a question I have asked a number of times. If an ID proponent is so worked up about teaching ID in the classroom, why are they also not pushing just as hard for Alchemy, Phrenology, Magic, Astrology, Feng Shui, Numerology, or Tarot Cards? I mean each of these have just as much scientific evidence as Intelligent Design! Didn't Michael Behe make that point during the Dover Trial? That in order for Intelligent Design to be accepted as science the very definition of science would have to be expanded to a point where astrology and the like would also be considered science. I am paraphrasing here because I really don't feel like wading through the transcript. I'm sure if I got it wrong someone will tell me. And unlike Creationists and ID proponents, when they correct me, I will thanks them and learn from it. Defensiveness works well when you are driving, but not very good for an education!

ID Body Art

Body art is an interesting subject in today's society. Many of the people I know and work with have some type of body art. Usually it's rather artistic and reflects the tastes of the person. One of my daughters has a couple, one of my best friends also is subtly adorned. I do enjoy many of the pieces of body art that I have seen -- not all, but many. After all, it's art and art is a matter of taste.

One thought I sometimes have is 'what will that tattoo look like in 10, 20, or 30 years'. The tattoo on the small of the back looks incredible at 21, but what will it look like after a couple of kids or maybe that barbed wire around the arm looks good on a muscular 20=something arm -- but at 40 after a shoulder surgery or two and more focus on 12 oz curls to free weights? Well like I said it's one of the occasional thoughts I have when I see some body art.

Dr. James McGrath brings to mind a new thought. He has a very interesting blog called "Exploring our Matrix", I've posted about it before, it is a great blog to follow. Well this article "Intelligent Design Can Leave You Scarred For Life" eventually links to William Dembski's web site (I refuse to call it a blog because they 'mediate' comments and dissenting ones, like mine, tend to disappear without ever seeing the light of day). Here is the picture:Supposedly this is a representation of Irreducible Complexity. Dr. McGrath had this to say:

"Many of us know that movements like intelligent design, and even more so young-earth creationism, can leave their adherents scarred for life if they eventually discover the extent to which they have been lied to and misled by proponents of these ideologies."
Certainly should make one think!. This is a bit more excessive than getting your girlfriends name on your chest just before she breaks up with you. Of even the saga of Kat Von D, a popular tattoo artist and canvas herself who just recently aired an episode of her TV show "LA Ink" where she had a childhood picture of Jesse James tattooed on what looks like the last clear area on her body-- at least the skin visible on TV. The episode aired shortly after the news announcing their break up. How does something like that make you feel?

But the receiver of this piece of artwork is going to be doubly surprised. The first will be when the Discovery Institute and their ID proponents abandon Intelligent Design. The reason this will happen depends on ID's success or failure. If it does succeed, it was only seen as a temporary answer to open the door for Creationism anyway(Check out the Wedge Strategy). So it never was going to be a real answer, just a foot-in-the-door alternative.

Now if it fails, which it has certainly done to-date, history says they will abandon it and latch onto the next possible philosophy that they can use to pander to politicians, lie to school boards, and collect money from folks like this tattooed adherent. Sooner or later ID will be left in the dust by the side of the road, like Creationism and Creation Science has faded from their marketing efforts.

The second surprise is less certain, but certainly possible. The receiver of this little bit of fantasy art might actually learn why intelligent design has been failing so miserably. I mean there is only so much marketing can do without any viable science behind it. One day he will look at his own arm and realize that it is just a little fantasy art that never did make any sense. He may never get there, but there is always hope.

I have to also give props to the blog "I Think, I Believe". Dr. McGrath linked through that site. I think I have a new one to add to my list! Thanks Arni, and thanks to Dr. McGrath for pointing out your site.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So there is nothing religious about ID? Part VI

We've had the conversation several times, 5 to be exact (here, here, here, here and here). We've talking about their penchant for talking to only religious audiences like their seminars at SMU, how the DI forgot to mention the previous job (Probe Ministries) of a recent hire, how they lack presence in both peer reviewed journals and secular university positions . . . to mention a few things. So where does that leave us?

Casey Luskin . . . I mean Anika Smith -- I do keep getting those two confused. Do they have the same person writing for them and just signing their names?

Well anyway, Anika wrote a little missive trying to take Reuters to task for them for insinuating that Intelligent Design is Creationism. Well if you really want to see it, here is her post "Reuters Gets It Wrong: Intelligent Design Isn't Creationism". Anika was working on selling the old line that ID is not Creationism. Now why in the world would we think something like that?

Here is the much more interesting Reuters article: "Texas education board sticks to teaching of evolution". Now this article is a brief report on the DI's utter failure in Texas and how the State School Board is sticking with Evolution, but does the DI choose to mention that? No, of course not. Does the DI seek to remind everyone how the Board went in exactly 180 degrees from the poorly named 'study' the DI did on the supplemental materials? Oh no, that's just another thing the DI would love people to forget about. no, they take exception to Reuters characterization of ID. Did they mention how supporters of science testified during the hearing? Oh heavens no!

What a surprise, I think Anika got it wrong. My reading of the Reuters article says they did not do what the DI claims they did. Here is the quote mentioned by Anika:

"Intelligent design and creationism are theories that life on earth was created essentially the way it is described in the Bible's Book of Genesis - not by evolution, but by a 'creative intelligence' generally considered to be the Christian God."
In addition, earlier in the article Reuters opened with the line:
"Conservatives had complained the materials up for approval did not adequately address "alternatives to evolution" such as creationism or intelligent design as a theory of how life began."
Now in each case Intelligent Design and Creationism were identified as 'alternatives to evolution' and 'theories', respectively -- please note the plurals 'alternatives and theories. Now my read on using the English that I spent years learning and using -- at no time did Reuters actually say they were one in the same. What do you think?

Now the article did say
"The Texas board, which includes evangelical Christians, had been seen as the best opportunity for supporters of Biblical-based theories of creation to get their point of view represented in public school curriculum."
But those Evangelical Christians weren't pushing for Intelligent Design or they might have objected when the ONLY supplemental materials publisher (International Databases, LLC) approved by the DI was rejected. Not only did they not raise an issue, they joined the vote! They did save their energy for objecting to evolution and common descent issues in another publisher. So in other words as written even this line doesn't make it sound ID and Creationism are the same thing.

No Anika was trying to make believe ID is science and thereby cannot possibly be Creationism. So why would the ID make the connection?
So it's not Reuters problem even if Anika has to make a stretch to even come up with this ridiculous accusation. The connection seems to be more a problem for the DI itself. It's own strategy document, DI Senior Fellow William Dembski, and Vice-President Stephen C. Meyer, Center for Science and Culture at the DI all seem to make the connection much more apparent than Reuters. Maybe Anika should take her complaint inside the DI before going after Reuters.

I think Reuters did the right thing by refusing to print a correction. I do not believe that Reuters has much to fear about credibility issues. I mean how much credibility does the DI have? Well outside specific religious organizations that is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Freshwater not so finale!

Looks like the Freshwater Saga isn't yet over. He has new representation and it looks like the State of Ohio is going to wimp out. "State pulls negative letter from Freshwater's file" from the Columbus Dispatch.

Let me gets this straight, he burns crosses into kids arms, lies about teaching Intelligent Design and has the kids lie for him, and refuses to follow district guidelines and it looks like he's still going to be able to teach in Ohio. In my opinion this man has yet to show any remorse, any regret, and even the slightest hint that he might have screwed up . . . he's convinced he did nothing wrong.

He's appealing his firing and he's already had the letter of admonishment removed. Folks, there has to be something we can do if for no other reason the safety of our kids. Is this the type of person we want teaching our kids. Let's see the lessons they can learn from him again:

  • How to not accept any personal responsibility for your actions.
  • How to tell the school district to stick-it with any rules and regulations.
  • How to teach non-science as if it were science.
  • And how to teach real science so poorly that later teachers had to re-teach it.
  • How to lie.
  • How to convince others to lie for you.
This man acts more like a lawyer himself than an educator! Yet he has his 5-year license to teach. Some cash-strapped school district is probably going to give this man another chance and when the lawsuits start flying, they are going to regret it.

Does that sound harsh? I certainly hope so. This quote from the article says a great deal:
"I want to go back to teaching and to put my Bible back in the corner of my desk."
Does this sound like someone who realizes he messed up his own life? Does this sound like someone willing to accept responsibility? Does this sound like someone who has any second thoughts what-so-ever about the harm he has done? Not to me. Until he does, he can find himself some minimum wage job very far from children. The State of Ohio should not have renewed his teaching license, and I pity any school system that hires him. So far he hasn't had any luck, even though he claims there were openings.

Does he even have a clue why a school system would hesitate to hire him? In my opinion I think he's going to start suing school system that refuse to hire him. The article has already set the stage:
"Religious freedom is considered the first freedom," said Rita Dunaway, staff attorney for the [Rutherford] institute. "A big factor in the reason we got involved in this case ... is that it looks like a lot of what happened to Mr. Freshwater dealt with him expressing his beliefs."
The Rutherford Institute is trying to turn this into a Religious Freedom case. Let me be one of the many who will remind the Rutherford Institute that here is a man who burned crosses into kids arms, lied about what he taught, refused to teach what he was supposed to teach, and encouraged his own students to cover for him. This isn't about religion, it's about a teacher who let his own beliefs interfere with his ability to do his job. He deserved to be fired, he should remain a former-teacher for the rest of his life. He should look back on all the harm he has done to his former profession, to the kids who were willing to lie for him, and admit to the lousy job he did as a teacher and realize that he brought it all on himself and do something different like accept responsibility for what he did. But he won't because there will always be someone, usually a lawyer, who will tell him it was always somebody else to blame.

Apparently the humility we so often hear about going side-by-side with religious beliefs clearly passed him by.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Texas and the Discovery Institute

I know, I know, I am still catching up on my blogging. But here is a fun one. Did you know that on June 7 the Discovery Institute released their own report on the supplemental materials submitted to the Texas School Board for review. Here it is, if you need a good laugh. "An Evaluation of Supplemental Biology and Evolution Curricular Materials Submitted for Adoption by the Texas State Board of Education"

According to the DI:

"Most proposed supplementary curricula fail to follow 2009 TEKS and/or contain glaring scientific errors."
Now, did you know that according to the rules the reason supplemental materials could be rejected is if they contain glaring errors or fail to follow the TEKS. The TEKS are the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards adopted in 2009. You might remember those, they were the ones in which the Discovery Institute failed, yet again, to include their 'strengths and weaknesses' arguments. They did, however, manage to get some wording about 'critical analysis' included.

So now that the voting has passed, obviously the statement that most of the material failed is not true. Plus, I have to remind you that the material passed unanimously -- which means even the hard-core conservative creationists voting in support of it.

The voting has passed and most of the material was not rejected. That does lead me to believe that the material certainly did follow the TEKS and did not contain any glaring scientific errors. Gee, it looks like the Discovery Institute lied. What a shock.

Now, also according to the DI:
"Unfortunately, as regards to the TEKS, that pertain to biology and evolution, only one of the proposed curricula (International Databases, LLC) makes any serious attempt to fulfill the call for meaningful critical analysis of biological and chemical evolution."
So the International Databases, LLC, is the only one that meets the standards, right? Apparently that too is a lie because guess which one got rejected in another unanimous vote? You got it, the submission from the International Databases, LLC.

The DI also tried to use some very common Creationist canards of Haeckel's drawings, the Miller-Urey experiment, dark and light moths, finches, and vestigial organs. All tactics attempted to be used in the past and each one continues to fail miserably.

They, the DI, also tried to sell us on the idea that they are opposed to the teaching of Intelligent Design . . . Right, this is the same organization who has failed to achieve their own goals about Intelligent Design. The same organization who when it found it was going to lose the fight in Dover suddenly claimed to have advised them down a different path. This is the same organization who regularly publishes unscientific books, articles, and holds seminars on Intelligent Design year after year. This is the same organization whose 'Wedge Strategy' clearly lays out the purpose of Intelligent Design. Yea, sure, the DI is opposed. In my opinion they should add the term 'currently' when they tell this little bit of PR. Oh they are opposed to it . . . right up until they think they can actually get it inserted into the curriculum -- then suddenly they will remind everyone that they have been championing ID for years.

I do have a question though. Who commissioned this study? Did someone in Texas ask for it? Who was it sent to and was it used during the hearings? My feeling is that the DI did this one on their own. It's more marketing, which does seem to be par for the course. They dressed it up in scientific sounding terms and even gave it a science-y title. but all it is -- is more marketing.

One last thing, their recommendation at the end of the 'study':
"Both because they fail to fulfill the 2009 TEKS and/or because they contain glaring scientific errors, 9 of the 10 proposed curricula which have posted material for online analysis clearly require significant revisions. One curriculum (International Databases, LLC) adequately fulfills the evolution-related TEKS, but it contains typographical and other errors that need to be corrected. It also goes beyond the TEKS because it addresses intelligent design, and so the material on intelligent design needs to be removed."
If school science standards were biological organisms, I think we could use this as a wonderful example of Natural Selection! So outside of the imagination and wishful thinking of unnamed members of the DI, the 9 proposed curricula was accepted unanimously and the only one seen fit by the DI was rejected, also unanimously. Oh if they had any shame their heads would be down for weeks over this one.

Well I am sure you can see how much fun it was looking this document over. The DI makes itself look foolish so very often I wanted to make sure this one wasn't lost in the crowd of errors, lies, and mistakes. I can't wait to see how they try and spin this.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

An intro to the neutral theory of evolution

Jen McCreight, the Blag Hag, is doing her annual Blogathon to raise money for the Secular Students of America (SSA). In her posts was a terrific one on the Neutral Theory of Evolution.

In places like Topix and other places where we comment on science -- we frequently have to remind anti-science proponents that Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection isn't the only method by which evolution occurs. The amazing Jen did up a nice post, An intro to the neutral theory of evolution, is a short synopsis in layman's terms. It's well worth reading. I am posting it here for two reasons, one to show some support, but more importantly for me to be able to find the link to her post whenever I need it. I have a feeling I will be posting the link to it often.

If you like it, you might think about a donation to the SSA. If nothing else you might wander her site. Unlike my blog, which tends to be about one topic, Jen's covers a great many things. Plus anyone who describes herself as "is a liberal, geeky, nerdy, scientific, perverted feminist atheist" is certainly worth a small investment in time!

Thanks Jen!

Follow-up on Texas

Over on Thoughts from Kansas, Josh Rosenau got to testify and witness the proceedings of what happened over in Texas. His post, A grey lining in Texas is well worth the read. Here are a few things I found particularly interesting.

  • That the arguments against one of the publishers who submitted material came from only one reviewer, young earth creationist David Shormann. Shormann might have had a few complaints, but then he didn't vote them, he joined the unanimous decision.
  • That publisher, Holt McDougal, stood their ground!
  • The issue of using Haeckel's drawings came up (again). Talk about a knee-jerk reaction. Creationists refuse to listen on the subject. As soon as they suspect Haeckel, they start screaming. (
  • Creationists were outnumbered in testimony at least 10:1 Didn't something similar happen during South Carolina's textbook debacle? Going to have to check that out.
  • Another complete failure to list supposed flaws in evolution. How many times have Creationists had this opportunity? Tens of chances, hundreds, thousands? So far they keep forgetting to bring this list they keep telling everyone about.
I'm sure Josh and others will be posting more about the hearings. Hope you are enjoying this as much as I am. Just remember the fight isn't over. Texas still has a chairman and members that still seem to think it is their responsibility to bring God back into the classroom by fighting science education, by re-writing the history curriculum, by trying to water down anything that doesn't support their point of view -- regardless of how few people share their narrow view.

So Cheers for Texas for now and a hearty 'keep your guard up' for the future. Creationists are nothing but flexible in their tactics. To put it another way, they tend to evolve when defeated.

Texas regains some Sanity!

OK, my very first blog post was about Texas (is Texas stepping backwards?) and since then I have posted quite often about Texas. I posted about Don McLeroy and his efforts to bring Creationism into the school curriculum. I posted about the Institute of Creation Research (ICR) and their efforts to award Masters of Science degrees without actually teaching science. I even blogged about some Texas lawmakers who wanted to introduce a variety of legislation that would not only have watered down science education and gave groups like ICR the ability to churn out diplomas without any oversight whatsoever. Things have been tough for Texas!

But there have been some glimmers of hope. I mean Don McLeroy not only does not get confirmed as the Board Chairman, but then gets voted off the Board. Even though the Discovery Institute stakced the deck of the 6 science 'experts' invited in to review Texas science standards were two of their own fellows they failed to get their 'strengths and weaknesses' included in the standards. Then, my personal favorite was not only turning down the ICR, but denying their appeal! I mean things haven't been all doom and gloom.

Right this second I am both proud of Texas and a little confused at the more conservative members of the State School Board. The reason I am proud of Texas is this:

The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In an 8-0 vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers--and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC. (Victory for evolution in Texas)
If you hadn't been following it, and I know I have been remiss in my blogging, but the latest battle was over Supplemental Materials. The State didn't have the $$ for new textbooks so they were looking to approve supplemental materials to augment the existing textbooks. The battle over this material has been looming over Texas for a while now.

Did we have reason to be concerned? Well, Barbara Cargill, the new chairman of the school board, told the Eagle Forum that it would be difficult to control the board because"Right now there are six true conservative Christians on the board, so we have to fight for two votes." She is cut from the same cloth as McLeroy and her immediate predecessor, Gail Lowe. I guess Gov Perry hasn't learned his lesson yet. We'll see if she gets confirmed -- at least I don't think she has been confirmed yet. (State education board chair already in hot seat). The other reason to be concerned is that because of the sheer size of Texas, any changes in curriculum, including textbooks and supplemental material would have an impact felt far beyond Texas' borders.

OK, so why am I confused. Well there was some objection to some of the materials, specifically from a publisher who refused to cow-tow to their attempts to water down science. There was also a publisher who was specifically pushing Intelligent Design. Yet the votes were unanimous . . . Unanimous. That confuses me. I would have expected the more conservative board members to stick by their principles, but they appear to have left them behind.

I'm not sure that's good or bad -- really! It might be good because in spite of public statements to the contrary, the Board did vote for real science. But the fact they seemed to say one thing and then vote another makes me uncomfortable. Well . . . only time will tell if their behavior is positive or negative. In the meantime they have had a positive affect on the students of the Great State of Texas!

Monday, July 18, 2011

And AiG responds to Doonesbury

And as usual misses the point. There response is typically knee-jerk-ish stuff.

It's pretty funny. First he alludes to 'misinformation'. I'm trying to see what did Doonsebury say that is mis-informative. I mean the comic correctly identified that Louisiana enabled the teaching of Creationism along with Evolution -- even though the law passed specifically prohibits it, the enforcement rules were written by the Louisiana Family Forum which made sure there were no teeth in that part of enforcement.

No, he's complaining that the comic strip claimed that Creationism is supported by no scientific evidence what-so-ever. There is nothing erroneous about that statement. No one, not even little kennie himself has managed to cobble up actual scientific evidence of Creationism. Oh he tells nice stories, but stories do not make it evidence.

He also whines that Noah wouldn't have taken any microbes, since he only too air-breathing animals. Kennie also says the comic teacher lied about Noah missing the Dinosaurs, which we all know kennie claims existed at the same time as early humans and were present on the ark. Neither of which is supported by any evidence.

Here are the two paragraphs that just kill me:

Evidence is interpreted through an observer’s worldview. The ability to weave a nice story from visible evidence does not make that story true. The fairy tale of evolution lacks testable scientific evidence to support its contentions that organisms acquired genetic information to become new kinds of organisms by accumulating information-losing mutations over millions of years. Such an idea makes as much sense as expecting a business which loses money on every sale to profit by making up the loss in volume!

The assertion that the “alternative theory” offered by creationists is “supported by no scientific evidence whatsoever” is false. The biblical account of Creation and the global Flood explains genetics, the fossil record, and the results of sin’s curse on this world. What we see in today’s world is consistent with what we read in God’s Word.

I bolded the two lines that cracked me up. It's called Projection. Little kennie is accusing the rest of the world of fabricating a nice story -- yet when the evidence is examined, who is the one really inventing a story? Little kennie and his pet 'Creation' scientists.

In my opinion kennie is the one who lies. In his statement "evolutionary ideas as indisputable facts is indoctrination". What statement in the comic strip alludes to evolution being an indisputable fact? There isn't one!

All kennie has to do is present some scientific evidence that actually disputes evolution and he might have a point -- but to-date all he does is tell stories, he lies about what science is, and the mis-represent what others -- in this case a very funny and telling comic strip -- actually wrote in order to market his unsupported ideas to the world. It would be funnier if it weren't so pathetic.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Doonesbury does it again

Sunday's Doonesbury was amazing! I have no idea how long this link will be good, so check it out quick:
This isn't their first foray in support of science, I recall one before my blog that dealt with a doctor and patient and whether or not the patient was a Creationist. The issue at hand was whether or not the patient wanted the old, now ineffective antibiotics or the new ones that were designed intelligently. It was good, but this one was even better.

Poor Louisiana. It's a telling point for the students in Louisiana who expect a good education, to get into a good college, and possibly even a career in something other than Theology! I've blogged about them many times. Hopefully sanity will break out eventually.

It's not like the politicians really care, they will pander to anyone who brings vote. The people of Louisiana are the ones who get to live with the result. They will have another opportunity to repair the damage in the next round of elections. Wish them luck folks!

Follow-up: Today everywhere I went I ran into this comic strip. It's been a blast. I need to check out the DI and see it they have addressed it yet. If so, I'll post another follow-up.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Discovery Institute and Basic Math

I know, I haven't been around much. Work has been more than a little too busy. But I have been reading and trying to keep up. Well this little one popped up and I can't resist. So here goes:

What caught my eye was a post over on the so-called DI news site: "Fewer Mutations Means More Time". Since I always thought that the DI argued about any possible beneficial mutation, but maybe I was wrong on that count. I know they have frequently tried to play the odds argument, that is how the odds are much to long for any mutation to form a useful characteristic. Well anyway, this post links over to a new study Nature Genetics that says there might be fewer mutations between human generations than previously thought. So how does the DI spin it?

Here is the paragraph that just cracked me up:

There's another issue that has not been fully addressed. These 60 mutations per generation are very few mutations for natural selection to work with. But humans have a very long generational time. And finally the authors reported that most of these mutations, particularly in the family with the higher mutation rate, occur in the non-coding part of the DNA. Finally, from what we know about mutations that do occur and have a noticeable effect on the person, they are often deleterious or serve to remove some type of function. Rarely are they beneficial and rarely do they add function. The question is, is this really enough mutations and enough time for natural selection to produce novel body plans?
The way this reads is that there are ONLY 60 mutations per generation -- human generations. Doesn't the study say 30-60 per individual? So we have millions of children born each day -- each one of them with between 30 and 60 mutations from their parents. Why are these too few for Natural Selection to work with? We are talking about millions of mutations every single day! It's not like all the kids born on the same day have identical mutations, or that all the kids in a generation all have the same set of mutations. This looks like . . . well to me . . . that the DI is doing a little numeric sleight-of-hand and making it sound much different than it really is.

The other part that I find funny is how closely the DI tries to tie the study to what they claim about mutations. Here, read these lines again:

"And finally the authors reported that most of these mutations, particularly in the family with the higher mutation rate, occur in the non-coding part of the DNA. Finally, from what we know about mutations that do occur and have a noticeable effect on the person, they are often deleterious or serve to remove some type of function. Rarely are they beneficial and rarely do they add function." (I added the emphasis)
Who knows this? Isn't this claim that the DI has often repeated, but never substantiated. I recall posted by Olivia Judson discussing mutations and I believe the majority of mutations were benign when it comes to Natural Selection, that is they do not offer an advantage or disadvantage in survival or reproductive opportunity. So it appears the DI is pushing their own unsubstantiated ideas as if they were factual -- in other words typical DI behavior.