Thursday, August 24, 2017

Whats Wrong with This Picture -- A Review of a Review of a Book We Haven't Read Yet?

Talk about knee-jerk reactions.  Here is a review of a book the Discovery Institute (DI) has not yet seen . . . huh?  Actually it's a review of a review of a book the DI has not yet seen.  Here's their post, "Early Review of A.N. Wilson’s Anti-Darwin Biography Could Have Been Predicted".  No byline for this one, wonder why?

The review they are reviewing is here: "‘Radical’ new biography of Darwin is unreliable and inaccurate".  Without a doubt it's a scathing review of a biography of Charles Darwin called "Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker", by A.N. Wilson.  Since I haven't read it either, this is a commentary on the DI's review of the review -- it is not a review of the review of the review of the book the DI hasn't read yet.

Here's what I see.  The DI does not like Charles Darwin.  You know many the reasons why.  They blame Darwin for pretty much every bad thing that has ever happened, especially racism, Hitler, the decline in church attendance . . . an endless list.  So therefore, anything that bashes Darwin has to be a good thing in their very narrow minds.  So the question is how to publicize something that says nasty things about Darwin.  That's the knee jerk reaction I was talking about, it doesn't matter if it's right or wrong about Darwin, it's a bash at him, so it deserves to be publicized.

The review (the real one, not the DI's review of the review) went through a number of claims made by A.N Wilson.  In a nutshell John van Wyhe said the book is wildy off the mark from anything Charles Darwin did or said. van Wyhe concludes with:
"The book claims to be a “radical reappraisal of one of the great Victorians, a book which isn’t afraid to challenge the Darwinian orthodoxy”. The result is one of the most unreliable, inaccurate and tendentious anti-Darwin books of recent times."
Let me repeat "unreliable", "inaccurate", and "tendentious".  That's pretty scathing!  A review like that would normally put me off paying much attention, especially when the review is published in a reputable source like "New Scientist".  No, New Scientist isn't perfect, for example their 2009 cover saying "Darwin was Wrong!" while the article didn't say that, only that Darwin was wrong on some details, but right in the overall concept.  But it does have a much more positive reputation than anything put out by  . . . say . . . the Discovery Institute.

So, back the original question, how do they publicize this bashing of Darwin?  First step, attack the reviewer with an accusation:
John van Wyhe is a Darwinian partisan
Which may or may not be true.  But it doesn't matter to the DI.  Of course it matters not if any criticism of Wilson's book is based on something other than partisanship, right?

Since van Wyhe contradicted many of the things Wilson claimed in his book, they have to call him names and try and make it sound as if the only reason van Wyhe would say nice things about Darwin is because he's a partisan, so his defense is only what's expected.

A question, who would you contact to write a review about a person?  I guess the DI would want to contact someone who knew nothing about the subject themselves so they could offer an objective opinion, right?  That's crap!  Here's who New Scientist contacted about a review:
"John van Wyhe is a historian of science, with a focus on Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, at the National University of Singapore. He holds some academic and research positions, ranging from founder and director of The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online, Scientific Associate, The Natural History Museum (London), a Fellow of the Linnean Society and a Member of the British Society for the History of Science. He has given more than 50 public lectures on Darwin in more than a dozen countries. He lectures and broadcasts on Darwin, evolution, science and religion and the history of science around world. He also wrote The Darwin Experience, a biographical book about Charles Darwin." (Wikipedia: John van Wyhe)
They contacted an expert on the subject.  A historian, someone knowledgeable.  Doesn't that make sense?

Just for comparison, just who is A.N. Wilson?
"Andrew Norman Wilson is an English writer and newspaper columnist, known for his critical biographies, novels, works of popular history and religious views." (Wikipedia: Andrew Norman Wilson)
Look a little closer, "known for his critical biographies", just the sort of author you want to make that your reviewer knows the subject at hand!  According to that Wikipedia page, he's been accused of inaccuracies in his biographies before.  So why might the DI want to attack the reviewer?

You may or may not remember this post from a few years back, "Why would the Discovery Institute call it 'Censorship' ", and I said:
"The DI are masters at Public Relations and Marketing. Anyone who says something negative about the DI or Intelligent Design is automatically a target. Do you remember little gem from 2006: "Canadian Quilters Attack Intelligent Design" from Evolution 'News' and Views and "“ID is a Myth” Quilt Wins National Contest" from Uncommon Descent. Yes, a quilter . . . a quilter did a quilt that made fun of Intelligent Design . . . and she is suddenly part of a cabal of Canadian Quilters who are attacking ID. See my point? They can't even allow someone to make a little fun of their pet version of Creationism without trying to gain some PR mileage out of it. A humorous quilt is suddenly an attack!"
 Anything that can be construed as an attack on ID is immediately counter-attacked back in a fit of defensiveness.  I also spoke about their knee-jerkisms a number of times, like "More 'Knee-Jerkiness' from the Discovery Institute, Emphasis on Jerkiness" and described their reactions like this:
  • "First, if you say something nice about Intelligent Design (ID), the DI falls all over itself to say nice things about you.  It doesn't seem to matter if what you say is pretty well meaningless, even if the bias of the author is well known -- case-in-point the recent posts (here and here) based on a new book by Tom Bethell.  
  • The other knee-jerk reaction is it you say anything that can be construed as negative about ID, they immediately jump on their keyboards and denounce you, usually claiming you didn't explain ID correctly and that you aren't fairly representing the official position of the DI.  case-in-point today's post: "In the Public Interest? ProPublica Misrepresents Intelligent Design and Discovery Institute Policy"
So, this is a pretty normal tactic of the DI, a knee-jerk reaction without giving any real thought to what they are going to say.  I mean how else do you consider an attack on Canadian Quilters?  Their immediate and first reaction is one of being defensive.

Which can explain a lot.  You see there are a number of mechanisms we use when we get defensive.  Denial, rationalization, and others.  The one I am most interested in right now is 'projection'.  What the DI is doing is using this to claim that van Wyhe is protecting Darwin because he's a partisan.  They pretty well ignore most of his critique, focusing on the one area it touches on their marketing.  But the reality is who is being partisan here?  The DI is the one attacking van Wyhe, not because his critique is invalid, but because he dared provide a scathing review of someone who can be perceived an ally of the DI.  They accuse van Wyhe of partisanship, yet it looks more like they are the ones acting as a partisan.

If van Wyhe's critiques are based on fact, then the one being a partisan, or maybe calling them an anti-Darwin partisan, is the DI.  If his critique is based on conjecture and opinion, then the DI might have a point.  Read the review itself and tell me what you think.

Little casey luskin, when he was with the DI, once actually posted
"The moral of this story is this: Whether the case ultimately wins or loses in court, don’t speak out publicly on a case until you know the facts. " (source)
If this was truly one of the guiding principles of the DI, they would never had reviewed this review until they could conduct their own review of the book itself, but they can't do that yet because:
"We haven’t yet seen a copy of A.N. Wilson’s forthcoming anti-Darwin book"
Which is reasonable, to a point. It also means they have no way of knowing if van Wyhe review is valid or not.  Actually that's not true, they could check out all the examples van Wyhe wrote about, but that would take too much effort.  So they simply write a meaningless disclaimer.  They also said this:
"Wilson’s competence or incompetence on Darwin remains to be seen with our own eyes."
While this sounds reasonable too, I see it as another disclaimer, a way of avoiding any real responsibility for what they write.  If Wilson's biography is found to be crap, then they can point to this line and claim innocence.  In the meantime, did they address any of the examples from van Wyhe's review and refute any of them?  No, they did not.  Let's discuss:
  1. Did the DI examine van Wyhe's description of how Wilson defined Darwin's theories?  No, they love to create their own straw-men and then demolish them, so maybe they feel Wilson is a kindred spirit.
  2. Did the DI look at Wilson's use of 'conflict' as an evolutionary mechanism and how that contrasted with what Darwin actually wrote?  No, but then they love the mischaracterization of 'survival of the fittest' themselves.
  3. Did they address Wilson's apparent confusing between Darwin's theories and Lamarck's?  In a dismissive sort of way, but that doesn't detract from the apparent delight they had trying to dismiss, or at least diminish the review.
  4. Did they address the material obviously copied from at a source who is notoriously anti-Darwin?  Why bother with facts, right?
  5. Did they address any other other identified factual errors?  They acknowledge that the errors might make the book "problematic", but never check into the things themselves.
No, they did none of this.  What they did do was grab onto one of the things that they have been pushing themselves, Darwin's supposed connection to Hitler, which has been debunked time and time again.  Not that debunking their ideas has ever stopped them from pushing them.

The DI ends with this:
"The key is exactly what does Wilson say and how does he say it. We know well by now to be cautious of Darwin’s defenders. They are often cagey and misleading. So at this point, who knows?"
Darwin's defenders are cagey and misleading?  So, instead of being cautious about a biography from someone known to play fast and loose with the facts --they are being cautious of a historian of science; the founder and director of The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online, Scientific Associate, The Natural History Museum (London); a Fellow of the Linnean Society and a Member of the British Society for the History of Science.  Why is that?  Guess which one aligns with the goals and tactics of the DI itself?

As you can see, it's not van Wyhe who can be seen as not being objective.  If the DI was being objective, even in the slightest, they would have waited for their own review once they could actually examine Wilson's own words.  But they can't let any bashing of Darwin pass unnoticed, even if it's nonsense.  Besides, if they wait and discovery that van Wyhe is right in his critique, does anyone think that would appear in any of their posts?  Of course not, they would then see reviewing this review as a missed opportunity.

So now let me ask you a question, who is playing at partisanship?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

OK, One Final Eclipse Post . . . unless those DI guys Say Something Irresistibly Funny Again!

I wasn't planning to write anything else about the eclipse, but some things just have to be shared. As I mentioned just yesterday, two of the Discovery Institute (DI) fellows are covering the eclipse via Facebook. Well one of them, Jonathan Witt, had a post today that I just had to laugh at. This post isn't so much about the eclipse, but the workings of the theological mind. Here's his post, if you want to read the whole thing: "I Witnessed the Perfect Solar Eclipse in Missouri. Amazing!"  Here's the part that cracked me up (underlines are mine):

" . . . I got into a conversation with a family . . .. I asked them what they thought of the odd fact that the moon fit just perfectly over the sun. Not too small that it never covered it. No so large that it covered too much of the sun and thereby blocking the corona. This meant the corona was beautifully visible during a perfect eclipse. 
The family chewed on the question for a moment. A couple of them seem a little puzzled. What was I getting at? Perhaps I hadn’t phrased it well. I know I hurried the question. Finally one answered that, well, the sun and moon fit perfectly because the moon was much closer than the sun, so that made up for the sun being so much bigger. 
Yes, of course. The sun was 400 times bigger, but the moon was 400 times closer than the sun. But I had hoped they would wrestle with the question of final causes. What was the deeper explanation for why we had been allowed, on rare occasions, to enjoy something that has dazzled humans for ages and, in recent generations, helped scientists to discover and test some truly amazing things about our universe?"
He asks them a relatively simply question and then he is disappointed in the answer because they didn't go for what he calls the 'deeper explanation'.  By 'deeper' he really means 'theological' explanation.  He was disappointed because they didn't voluntarily add a layer of unnecessary deitification to their perfectly satisfactory answer.

I don't know if 'deitification' is the right word, but the idea fits.  Everything the DI looks at is filtered through their Bible-colored glasses and when they find someone who doesn't look at things the same way, they just tune them out and continue on, adding their religious viewpoint like Jonathan did here.  I wonder what the family in question really thought of Jonathan?  I am a little surprised he didn't start preaching the DI party line..  He also said in his post:
"Many who have described the viewing of a perfect solar eclipse say it as borders on a religious experience, people of many different religious faiths and of no religious faith. What best explaining that feeling?"
Yet he didn't seem to be able to find any of the 'many', did he?  He only mentioned speaking to one family and yet he says 'many' as if it had any real meaning.

I do have to ask, just what makes something a 'religious experience'?  Is there anything empirical that helps make that determination? No, it's just another opinion.  I mean who can contradict you if you say you have had a religious experience?  You do learn, especially when you live in a apartment, that hearing "Oh God!" coming through the walls does not necessarily mean an actual religious experience.

I stood with approximately 30 people during the height of the eclipse, looking through a pinhole viewer, sharing several eclipse glasses and discussing the eclipse.  Jonathan would have been horribly disappointed in all of us because not a single one voiced anything along the lines of 'deeper meaning'.  No one cried out in fear or supplication either.

You know, with how often the DI tries to hide their theology behind ill-fitting lab coats, popular press articles and books, they never seem to really stray far from it.  Jonathan shows us this as he ends with a firm nod to his religion and an affirmation why the DI will never be able to convince anyone they aren't a religious ministry:
"I am convinced that the best explanation for that feeling of reverence is that there is a maker worthy of reference at work here. And I’m convinced that this explanation — design and not chance — is both the most imaginative, the most reasonable explanation. 
Today I was not alone in giving praise to the maker of sun and moon for a perfect solar eclipse. Hallelujah!"
He's convinced, even though no one in the DI, or anywhere else, has offered one shred of evidence that such a maker, not only exists but set up things as the DI wants to believe they set things up.  Imaginative?  Maybe, but hardly reasonable.  I will take the family from Jonathan's own experience.  He asked them a question and they gave back a perfectly reasonable response . . . only it wasn't reasonable by his standards.  Without the insertion of some reference to a deity, he doesn't find that reasonable.  So, let me get this straight.  Unless you look at 'deeper explanation', any answer isn't reasonable?  Why is that?  We have thousands of scientific answers that we make use of on a daily basis and not one single one of them requires the invocation of a deity.  Wouldn't you consider something that works, and works well, pretty damn reasonable?

But he's convinced!  Why?  It's simple, he cannot rationalize a world without a deity running the show.  That's it, his disappointment at the family shows that.  He doesn't understand how you can look at the world without a deity in the mix.  To him 1+1 doesn't just equals 2, it equals 2 because a deity permits it.  He cannot comprehend how anyone sees the world without needing a deity.

But he's convinced -- and also disappointed because not everyone is looking at things as he does.  You almost feel sorry for Jonathan . . . well not really.  Tell me, Jonathan, how would adding in the opinion that a deity did something do to that family's enjoyment of the eclipse?  Like most efforts to add theology into science, it doesn't do anything other than complicate things with non-answers.  Just like the DI's claims about Issac Newton, there isn't a point in any of Newton's work where you can say "and here is where God did this".  Religious beliefs do not add to our understanding of the universe, it inhibits.

It inhibits some people from asking questions, and others from seeking answers.  It has been used many times to stop scientific inquiry in it's tracks.  Imagine where we would be if every time someone tried to do something new, or look at something differently there was a Jonathan telling us that one deity or another doesn't agree and we should stop.  Look at all the world's religions, I am sure pretty much anything we do will be against one or more of them.  Religion can paralyze us, if we let it.  We would be at the mercy of perfectly natural events, without any understanding of them.  We would probably be still standing outside of our first cave, because someone in the group didn't want to irritate one deity or another.

Without a shred of evidence, Jonathan and Co. want us to place his religious beliefs into everything we do -- whether or not we agree with them and also whether or not they add anything.  If not, then he'll be disappointed.  Well I hope he is prepared to live with lots and lots of disappointment.

How Did We Know There Would Be an Eclipse Today?

Creationists or many stripes and colors have been going crazy over the impending eclipse.  These are the same groups that often malign real science with pseudo-science idiocy.  A quick question, how did we know there was going to be an eclipse today?  Not just today but exactly the time and the locations where it would be visible?

According to many theists, the only book you ever need is the Bible, so was today's eclipse listed in the Bible?  Not just a passing mention, but all the complete details?  Maybe it's in an appendix that my copy, or more accurately my copies, don't have?  Nope, nothing on the specific of an astronomical event, or any specific event.

How about any other theological book?  No, how about Nostradamus?  Nope, nothing worthwhile.  So how do we know?

It's called . . . and I know some of you might not like it . . . it's called 'Science'.  Yes, the same science that theological organizations tear apart on a daily basis.  Astronomers have been studying the sky for generations.  They have been documenting it and using that documentation for predictions for a very long time.  And, you know something, it works pretty well.

Astronomers, like biologists, physicists, geologists, paleontologists, and the rest all follow the same methodology.  That methodology includes:

Yet, for some unsupportable reason, when science is addressing anything a theist believes to be part of their religion, they come up with all sorts of excuses and rationalizations why the science is wrong.  The speed of light was different way back then, there wasn't anyone to see it -- so how do you know, radio-logical dating doesn't work . . . and the list goes on.  In each case the real science behind the physics, chemistry, biology, and the rest of the physical sciences stand on firm ground and are well-supported.  It's the theists who keep trying to change it to suit their religion.

And then, for some even stranger reason, they like to use the results of science to further their own belief systems.  I mean right now the folks of kennie ham's answers-in-genesis (AiG) are 'sharing the gospel along the path of the eclipse'.  Doesn't that sound like fun?  How about two of the Discovery Institute fellows are covering the eclipse via Facebook?  Another 'fun' way to kill a few braincells hours.  One of the two talking heads, I can never tell which is which because they are so hard to tell apart, is quoted saying
“If you watch videos of people during total eclipses they gasp and scream and cry, and so there is some kind of primordial connection that we have to eclipses that is very hard to account for.”
I don't have trouble accounting for it, I would check first the educational level of anyone gasping and screaming, and then I would check their religious beliefs and see what they have been told about eclipses.

Conspiracy theorists are hedging their bets.  The NY Post reports that 
"Conspiracy theorists are warning the “Eclipse of the Century” Monday could mean the end of the world as we know it — or, at the very least, Donald Trump’s presidency." (source)
Although for many conspiracy theorists, the two are pretty much the same thing.

What we have happening is a natural event, but there is always something trying to use it to further their own agenda.  Many theists organizations have been going eclipse crazy, even quoting Bible verses about a supposed black moon.  New flash, the Moon isn't actually changing color (Science can explain why it looks that way) . . . which is how they will be happy to rationalize things when the world doesn't end.  Just remember, if you hear a trumpet blowing, they might be right . . . or the Jazz club down the street left their doors open.

So, just wanted to pen this note, probably the last one in which I will discuss the eclipse.  Had to point out the hypocrisy of theists who denigrate some part of science, without anything resembling support, while trying to use other parts to push their theological agenda.  Science is a methodology, and they simply don't like it when it works -- in spite of their religious beliefs.

A side-note, during the peak of the eclipse, I was standing outside with several co-workers, we were enjoying the view of the 90% partial eclipse.  A lady from another company in this building commented:
"During the 1919 total eclipse my grandfather was alive and living in a remote region in Appalachia.  No radio, no television, no Internet.  They had very few ways of knowing the eclipse was going to happen.  He really thought the world was ending."
To an extent I can understand that . . . then . . . but today?  With all of the avenues of communication and the insane amount of time spent covering this 90 minute or so event.  Anyone who didn't know of its coming had to have their head buried in the sand.  And anyone who believes some dire event is about to occur because the Moon got between us and the Sun. . . really needs to get out more.  Put down the Bible and read a science book once in a while!

Here is the main reason for this post, I am always amazed at how the theological mind works.  They can denigrate science while using a computer that was created using the same scientific methodology they like to question.  They drive cars using the same science, they use medicines and medical treatments created using that same science, and they eat food created and even prepared using that same science . . . the list of the ways theists use science is endless, and yet when science even has the appearance of brushing up against their belief set, a belief set defined by men centuries ago, they become unhinged and start trying to re-define science to protect their beliefs.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Who 'Owns' a Rainbow?

A British Pastor claims that "God owns the rainbow not gay pride". Apparently this guy is taking lessons from little kennie ham, who is trying to "Reclaim the Rainbow". Just like little kennie, the Pastor ignores all the other symbolism involving rainbows and focuses on the LBGT community, who have been using if as a symbol since the late 1970's.

So, also like kennie, we see this isn't really about the rainbow, but yet another theistic attack on the LGBT community for not following the same lifestyle at the pastor and his particular flock. The Reverend quoted the Christian Bible:
“I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” (Chapter 9, verse 4 of the book of Genesis)
A token, in other words -- a symbol. So theists of this particular stripe did exactly what the LGBT community, Skittles candy, Rainbow Brite, the Care Bears, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and many politicians across both aisles in the US Congress have done, they's adopted a natural event as a symbol representing something. That's not ownership!

The Reverend also said:
“God is saying, it’s my rainbow. It belongs to me. And it does. He owns the copyright for the rainbow. The copyright for the rainbow belongs to almighty God. Not to the LGBT movement.”
So there are Copyright laws in Heaven? Oh, there are some people who are going to get really upset. What are the rules, how does one apply for a heavenly copyright? Is there a time limit, can it cross national borders? How much does it cost . . . although that's a question I would never put to a clergyman. (old joke about a dog being declared a Catholic)  Does this apply to trademarks as well? Does the little copyright symbol look different when it's given by a deity? Maybe it has a star around it instead of a circle?

Little kennie doesn't seem to have a problem with other groups adopting symbols that are also used by the various theist groups. Why isn't kennie complaining when the KKK uses a cross, and burns it?  How about all this Fish-related industries who dare to use a Fish as a symbol? Why aren't kennie and this pastor whining about reserving the fish symbol?  There's a Chicago Street Gang who use a 6-pointed star as a symbol, why is no one claiming copyright on the Star of David?  Or is it only the Christian God who needs copyrights?  How many organization is use a ship's wheel as a symbol, why aren't the Buddhists claiming ownership?

Sound even sillier now, doesn't it? No one, not even a capricious deity, owns a rainbow. Claiming otherwise makes you look even sillier than usual. It's not really an ownership issue, this is just another attack on a group of people who live a life different from the Pastor's and little kennie. So much for Christian ideals and values.

The Discovery Institute has been going Eclipse Crazy

I've been reading their 'coverage' of the upcoming Solar Eclipse and it's been very entertaining.  While their posts start out OK, they quickly have to being a Creationist spin to the party, but not much of it.  That's the funny part.  All of these posts are over at their pseudo-blog site, Evolution 'news' and Views (EnV).

  • The Great American Total Solar Eclipse of 2017: They say this:
    "Oh yes, we will also cover the intelligent design aspects of solar eclipses!"
  • Great American Eclipse: A Teachable Moment:  Lists 10 things about eclipses, all from their 'design' perspective.  Reading this led me to believe they will be working in their 'Privileged Planet' nonsense.  You remember how they tried to explain that the formation of the solar system and the position of Earth was done so that life could survive, well after it was first created by one of their deities.  Bet they interview Guillermo Gonzales, unless he's cowering under a desk somewhere because of the:
    ". . . total solar eclipses are fearsome and awesome phenomena . . ."
Now here is where I got a little confused.  You see EnV tags all their posts, and while these first two tags are "Intelligent Design", the later Eclipse stories are tagged as "Physics, Earth, and Space".  Here's a screenshot:
So are they reneging on their promise to thrill us all with their Intelligent Design perspective on the eclipse?  I guess we shall see.  
  • Recalling the 1979 Total Eclipse:  Is a written memory of an eclipse witness.  Nothing design worthy, but I can see why the DI liked it, I mean they like anything that acknowledges a deity, and this ended with:
  • "We blinked in the light It was as though an enormous, loping god in the sky had reached down and slapped the earth’s face."So that reference alone made this post 'design-worthy'.
  • Eclipse Coincidences: They list a few things that sound suspiciously like facts, like the distance to the Moon, how the Moon is receding from the Earth, how over the course of time the Sum will expand . . . we're talking millions of years here.  The DI claims that the 'coincidental' Moon moving away and Sun getting bigger will let us enjoy perfect eclipses for a long, long time.  Then they add:
    "Are these just coincidences, or do they point to intention and design? How could observers on earth be linked to total solar eclipses? Stay tuned and follow our eclipse series for answers."A 'perfect eclipse' is one only visible from Earth because the sun and the moon are a 'perfect' fit.  Of course, by the wording, you know what they believe.  They very idea of a coincidence is an anathema to them.  It has to be intention and design!
  • Solar Eclipses Still Inspire Science: And here we have it, the whole "Privileged Planet" nonsense.  Yes, things exist, but trying to rationalize they exist because one deity intended for them to happen is not science.  They offer no support other than supposition, no evidence other than the acknowledgement that things exist.  They cannot accept natural explanations, so they have to force reality into a mold that demands the existence of and very specific actions by a deity.  I'm sure it will get mentioned again, ad nauseum!  They end it with this quote from the film:
    "Our argument suggests something completely different. It suggests that the universe was intended, that the universe exists for a purpose, and that purpose isn’t simply for beings like us to exist, but for us to extend ourselves beyond our small and parochial home: to view the universe at large, to discover the universe, and to consider whether, perhaps, that universe points beyond itself."
    Isn't that dead horse glue yet?  No!  Well. let's beat it some more.
  • To Go, or Not to Go (See the Eclipse)? That Is the Question:  Well, it's a question, not 'the' question.  I, for one, will not be going anywhere.  I'll get a small partial eclipse here in Ohio and will see the shadow from my office window.  If I were closer to the total eclipse, it might be worth a drive, but I have plans for my vacation days that don't include an 8 or so hour drive to see a two minute event that will be covered over and over again by the news.  Partial eclipse is just going to have to be enough.  Nothing special about this post.  Anyone who has planned a trip anywhere for any purpose knows about dealing with the logistics, including lodging, meals, traffic, and weather.  I do have to wonder if the eclipse is some message from a deity, shouldn't the weather be perfectly clear all along its path?  The message gets a little lost if you can't see much of it.  You want to prove the hand of a deity, how about a total solar eclipse around the entire world all at the same time!  Now that might get a few converts.
  • The Best Solar Eclipses:  Best?  By what standard?  The DI seems to think eclipses anywhere but here aren't very special because of the size differences between the Sun and the object casting the shadow.  Other planets have total solar eclipses as well, in fact Jupiter, with it's 60+ moon can have multiple ones on the same day (NASA has pictures).  'Best' is an arbitrary distinction that doesn't mean much.  We even have pictures of a solar eclipse from Mars, the Curiosity Rover sent us the pics.  This 'best' things sounds like something that hamster-haired serial lying misogynist would say "We get the best solar eclipses in the solar system, by far!"  Makes as much sense as anything he has said.
  • Don’t Miss the Solar Eclipse! (Unless You Are Ill, or Trapped in a Dungeon): Here's a quote:
    "Have you noticed the odd coincidence? The Moon and the Sun aren’t much alike. Yes, they’re spherical. But one is a giant ball of gas and plasma. The other is a much smaller rock. And yet, during a total eclipse, they mark off the same space in our sky. They match. That’s because the Sun is about four hundred times larger than our Moon, but also about four hundred times farther away."
    Gee, they are round and for a brief period of time they pass each other in line with the Earth.  So they 'match'?  Really?  Now if the math seems off to you, the DI is talking about diameter, not any other measurement.  Area or Volume and the Moon is pretty much insignificant when compared to the Sun.  The DI thinks it's special simply because it will block out much of the Sun's body.  But that will be changing, remember the Moon is moving away form the Earth and in about 600 million years, solar eclipses will look very different.  In a few billion years the sun will be expanding, and eclipses, if we have a moon then at all, will be very, very different by then.
  • Solar Eclipses and Life:
    "Since there appears to be a physical basis for the solar eclipse coincidences, does this not remove the need for a design explanation? Not at all! It seems surprising on the chance hypothesis that the universe would be setup in a way that the most habitable locations would also be the best places to observe total solar eclipses. But this makes sense on the hypothesis that the universe is designed so that observers can enjoy total solar eclipses.
    Thus, solar eclipses became the first example of the Privileged Planet thesis (published in book form in 2004), that the universe is designed for scientific observation and discovery."
    The fact that solar eclipses occur, and that because they occur here and are visible to humans is an example of the Privileged Plant Thesis?  The link takes you to the Privileged Planet website where they hawk the book.  So what is this thesis?  For a change, at least, they are admitting it's a thesis, which is nothing more than a statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved.  Which simply means more conjecture and wishful thinking, not proof, not empirical support, but just a statement that would like someone else to support -- because in the 13 years since publication, nothing has actually supported it.
OK, so in all their posts, and I am sure there will be more before the 21st, there is very little design perspective in their 'coverage' of the upcoming eclipse.  It's more like they are using a natural event to push their own agenda, while dressing it up to sound like they know and understand real science.

I am reminded of a scene in an old movie, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.  The Bing Crosby one from 1949.  He's about the be hung and remembers that an eclipse was going to happen right then and there.  So he plays up the fear as the sun disappears and wins the day, and eventually the fair maiden -- well sort of.  Apparently that story was taken from a real-life example of none-other-than Christopher Columbus on his 4th voyage.

Even Answer in Genesis is getting into the act with a bunch of posts of their own.  Before you explore that, you might read this one from 2015.  "Watch the Lunar Eclipse from the Creation Museum"  Here's a quote:
"It’s your last opportunity to see a total lunar eclipse from North America until 2018. And we want to invite you to watch the whole thing with us at the Creation Museum! On September 27, around 9:07 PM, we’ll see the moon start to slip into the moon’s shadow and it will be completely hidden a few hours later."
So back in 2015 there was a Lunar eclipse and the Creation pseudo-museum threw a party.  I have to guess it wasn't a big hit because they aren't holding an event this time around.  Granted you wouldn't get to see the total solar eclipse at the pseudo-museum, but you would get a decent partial one.

Since using eclipses' is a time-honored tradition both in movies and real life, I am surprised little kennie ham isn't selling tickets.The one in 2015 was $16 a person, imagine what he could charge today?

Monday, August 14, 2017

So Who is Censoring the Intelligent Design Community's Free Speech?

As expected, the Discovery Institute (DI) has renewed their free speech whine.  "Evolutionist: Free Speech for Me, Not for Thee, Certainly Not for ID".  So the question is are the rights of free expression being taken away from the DI and the few others who are part of the Intelligent Design (ID) Movement?

We discussed something close to this last year, "Is anyone actually censoring the Discovery Institute?".  We determined that the DI's cries of censorship were unfounded and nothing more than another marketing scheme.  They weren't being censored, nor was anyone talking about censoring them.  Disagreeing with them, absolutely!  Keeping them from being taught as science in the science classroom, certainly!  Making fun of the mental rationalizations they use to justify their existence (and funding), oh most definitely!  But those are neither censorship or a violation of free speech.

Now for today's post, it's a teaser for one of their pod casts. In the post they claim:
"Dr. Coyne favors it for people who agree with him, not so much for those who disagree."
I disagree completely. Jerry Coyne's blog "Why Evolution is True" is not about free speech only for those who agree with him, but about telling truth about those with a bone to pick with real science, among other topics. When groups like the DI push pseudo-science as if it was actual science, he's often there to correct them. When they try and hold Darwin up as a poster boy for Hitler, he's quick to point out how wrong they are.  He blogs on many topics, not just Evolution, but often current topics, like the Charlottesville shooting, Feminism, Wildlife pictures (animals and bird, not people).  His blog is interesting and informative.  I don't always agree with him, the differences are usually one of degree, not position.  He is opinionated, for sure, and pulls no punches, so when he called the DI "creationist mushbrains", he means it.  I think he's giving them too much credit, but it is his blog, after all.

I find it hard to think the DI will miss Jerry if he stops blogging.  Their comment:
"The University of Chicago biologist has said on various occasions that we’re “obsessed” with him, but the truth is he is just very useful, very helpful to us. If there ever comes a time when he tires of blogging at 'Why Evolution Is True', that will be a very sad day."
As often as I, and many others, point out the DI's many lies and obfuscations, anyone who has been a thorn in their side for as long as Jerry has will not be missed if he stops blogging.  Jerry has one huge advantage over the DI, he's an actual biologist, not a philosopher or lawyer pretending to be one.  That gives added weight to the topic of evolution and intelligent design.  Can anyone tell me one time Jerry took the DI to task and he turned out to be in error?  Just one?  Neither can I.

One last quote from the DI, which caused me to choke a little on my Diet Dr. Pepper:
" . . . Dr. Egnor [Michael, on of the DI's talking heads] . . . first getting interested in intelligent design, something that impressed him was the way ID proponents are absolutists about letting opponents talk, write, and teach freely, never, ever stooping to the tactic of threatening someone’s job at a university, or the like.  Meanwhile, Darwinists are keen on shutting down conversation — not a hallmark of a strongly supported scientific theory"
So, ID proponents let opponents talk, write and teach freely?  A couple of points here, sort of in reverse order.  Are any ID proponents in a position to not allow science teachers to teach science?  Well the DI would like you to think that even if they had the power, they wouldn't exercise such power.  I do not believe them, for a very simple reason, how many teachers have been disciplined or fired from non-secular schools for teaching actual science?

I'm sure the DI will claim that those had nothing to do with ID -- because they like to claim ID is not Creationism. But we know that is nothing but another lie and marketing campaign. Teaching real biology in a private school can, and has, gotten teachers fired. J.B. Stump is one example, as are Thomas Jay Oord, Pamela Hensley, and Stacy Mendrick.  They aren't the only ones.  All are examples of the close-minded condition of the theological brain.  

One famous, or infamous, example is from the DI's own past, William Dembski.  Anyone else remember :
"While serving as a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dembski wrote The End of Christianity, which argued that a Christian can reconcile an old Earth creationist view with a literal reading of Adam and Eve in the Bible by accepting the scientific consensus of a 4.5 billion year of Earth. He further argued that Noah's flood likely was a phenomenon limited to the Middle East. This caused controversy and Dembski's reading of the Bible was criticized by Tom Nettles, a young Earth creationist, in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Southern Seminary's official theological journal. In 2010, the dean of Southwestern's School of Theology, David Allen, "released a White Paper through the seminary's Center for Theological Research defending Dembski as within the bounds of orthodoxy and critiquing Nettles for misunderstanding the book. The paper included Dembski's statement admitting error regarding Noah's flood." Southwestern Seminary president Paige Patterson, a young Earth creationist, "said that when Dembski's questionable statements came to light, he convened a meeting with Dembski and several high-ranking administrators at the seminary. At that meeting, Dembski was quick to admit that he was wrong about the flood. "'Had I had any inkling that Dr. Dembski was actually denying the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible, then that would have, of course, ended his relationship with the school,' he said." (Wikipedia: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary flood controversy)
Now the reason I want to remind you of that is because just recently the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reported this: "Dembski and the Scandal of the Evangelical Mind". In it they quote Dembski about that particular controversy:
" . . . this entire incident left so bad a taste in my mouth that I resolved to leave teaching, leave the academy, and get into a business for myself, in which my income would not depend on political correctness or, for that matter, theological correctness."
How quickly the DI tends to forget the idea of 'Theological Correctness'.  So while the DI continues to deny their religious roots, we can see that the theological minded are much more close-minded than the science community, even more close-minded than the claims the DI likes to make against the scientific community, unsubstantiated claims, in my opinion.

If you disagree, just point to a single teacher, professor, administrator who was fired for teaching Intelligent Design?  Not one!  The nearest was John Freshwater, but he was fired for a number of things, including failing to teach the science curriculum he was supposed to be teaching.  So he wasn't just trying to teach ID in addition to real science, he was replacing the curriculum with one of his own choosing.  If that was all, he still might be employed, but remember Freshwater is also the one who lied to investigators, encouraged his students to lie for him, burned crosses into students arms, and lied about leading prayers for one of the student athletic groups.  The others the DI likes to claim were fired, or disciplined, for their support of ID is another set of lies.  Click the links yourself to read about them:
  • Crocker's contract was up and she was not re-hired partly because she was failing to teach the subject she was hired to teach..
  • Gonzalez was not given tenure because he failed in his responsibilities as a professor with graduate students.
  • Sternberg was the already outgoing editor of a minor biological journal who, on his way out the door, violated the journals review procedure to publish one of his friend's ID papers.  A friend he now works for -- imagine that!
  • Coppedge was simply downsized and tried to turn it into a religious discrimination suit and failed.  Of course he looked pretty bad when all the evidence showed that he was a poor employee (there were complaints), liked to preach his religion to his co-workers (there were more complaints), and refused to keep his skills current.
There are a few others, but when you did a little you find that the DI's characterizations of the stories are more than a little suspect.  We discussed some of those here: "Skepticism vs. Scholarship (From James F. McGrath)"  It's amazing the spin the DI places on their martyr stories!

Now a new question, Are Darwinists (DI pejorative for Biologists) really shutting down the conversation?  Just how are they doing that?
  • One way is to fight letting ID into the science classroom.  Is ID science?  No one has provided any support that ID belongs in the science classroom, especially not the DI.  So this isn't a matter of free speech, but a matter of teaching an actual science curriculum.  Should be also add Astrology to the science classes of Astronomy?  Numerology to Math classes?  Of course not, ID is just like those other area, pseudo-science at best.
  • Another way is by reviewing ID literature.  Pointing out the many procedural and factual errors is not a violation of free speech.  Funny when the DI complains about a negative review, they never address the contents of the review, but attack the reviewer.  Did you notice in this very post there isn't a single factual error of Jerry Coyne pointed out, is there?  ID literature is also never published in any forum where the requirement includes actual empirical support.  
  • Most scientists refuse to engage in the debate.  For years, real scientists have ignored groups like the DI, Answer in Genesis (AiG), the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and the Access Research Network (ARN).  Only recently when they try and threaten science education have some scientists spoken up.  The majority refuse to engage because of the tactics of such groups. One of the best responses to such a debate request was "How to respond to requests to debate Creationists", it's a great read, especially the actual response.  This, again, isn't a free speech violation, but an example of using comment sense and professional ethics.  Here, I just have to quote this from Prof Gotelli:
    "So, I hope you understand why I am declining your offer. I will wait patiently to read about the work of creationists in the pages of Nature and Science. But until it appears there, it isn't science and doesn't merit an invitation."
So in what other ways do you think the DI complain about?  Not all complaints, just the ones they keep trying to characterize as issues of free speech?  If we got into their whines about 'academic freedom' -- which I do not believe they understand what that phrase means -- we might be here all night.

In closing no one is inhibiting the DI in the area of free speech.  What they are doing is not giving the DI every platform they seem to think they are entitled to have.  Until they perform real science, they do not belong in the science classroom;  until they support their fanciful ideas, no one is obliged to take them seriously; and until they engage openly and honestly and stop using their many Tactics of Mistake, they deserve every scathing review, every turned down debate request, and not being taken seriously by the scientific and educational communities.

So, to answer the title question, just who is censoring the Intelligent Design Community's Free Speech?  No one, no one at all!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Free Speech is not Free!

First off a quote from the Bill of Rights, sorta stage setting:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (U.S. Constitution: First Amendment)
Recently this has come under some discussion concerning the freedom of speech for a former Google Engineer.  My question is simple: "Did Google firing the engineer who wrote an internal memo concerning a why women aren't as prevalent in the IT workplace as men an issue of Free Speech?"  I'm not going to address the contents of his memo, that's being done all over the Internet.  I am interested in how it ties to free speech.

Here's a post that drove me to consider this topic today, "Another Google Nail in Liberty's Coffin", it's from the World Net Daily, which is not one of the most objective sources for news.  The article never gets around to considering the responsibilities of free speech, which tells me that the author may not understand those responsibilities.

I have always been taught that 'Free Speech' isn't free from consequences.  The classic example of walking into a theater and yelling "Fire!".  There had better be a real fire or you can be held responsible for the ensuing panic of the people trying to leave the theater.  Any injuries or property damage may well wind you in court.  More close to home, my Dad once told me that there are certain words and phrases that might be legal to say, but if you say them in front of your Mother, you will probably live to regret it!  Just because you might be legally free, doesn't absolve you of the potential consequences of your words.  I think I fully understood this the first time I heard one of my kids telling a dirty joke :-)

So, was the Google Engineer's 'free speech' violated by Google terminating his employment?  

First one technicality, note the First Amendment above, is Google a government entity?  No!  Did Congress make a law preventing the engineer from writing his 10 page paper?  No!  Does the engineer have the right to express his opinion?  Yes, which he did!  No one legally could stop him from expressing himself on the topic.  It may not have even occurred to his employer that it might be necessary.

Now the tough question, is the right of free speech devoid of any consequences?  Here is the lesson that I think people forget.  No, the right to free speech, or freedom of expression as it is more often expressed, does not absolve you of the potential consequences.  When we exercise our rights, we also have responsibilities that go along with them.

Does Google have a right to expect certain behaviors from its employees?  Do they have the right of hiring and firing employees?  Internally the memo caused a number of reactions, including people saying they had no wish to work with that particular engineer, especially if his attitudes about women are the things he posted.

There's where you have to consider the responsibilities of free speech, not just the lofty idealistic version.  Freedom of expression is not the idea that people are free to say whatever they want, whenever they want, and wherever they want.  Why is that so hard to understand?  Should Google have kept the engineer despite of his post?  Should they force people to work with him?  Such opinions have an impact on working relationships!  Google, as a business entity, does have the right to employ who they wish and the right to terminate employees for a number of perfectly legitimate reasons.

If I have a negative opinion of the company I work for, or some of the people I work with, I have the right to that opinion.  Once I utter that opinion aloud, or in a post, I am truly exercising my right to free expression.  However that freedom doesn't shield me from the consequences of my words.  If my company, or co-workers, have a negative reaction to my words, there will be repercussions, and more than likely end my relationship with the company -- either voluntarily or involuntarily.  That's how life works!  Freedom of Expression doesn't shield me from saying something that could have negative consequences and shouldn't be used in that fashion.

It's like a prejudice.  Is it legal to have prejudices?  How can you legislate the thoughts in someone's head?  No one can tell you what to think.  But when those prejudices are expressed in words or deeds, that's when the repercussions start.  There are legal issues as well as personal ones.  Supposed I called one of my co-workers by some racial or ethnic slur.  Should the idea of 'free speech' be used to protect not only my employment but also my ass when it gets kicked?

No, by deliberately using words designed to harm others is not an example of free speech, but rather stupid speech.  Yes, I might win a lawsuit for assault and battery, but the odds of that are 50-50.  The judge might rule that my words caused the problem in the first place and was inciting the violence that put me in the hospital.  Even if the judge rules for me, how much fun will I be having from said hospital bed?  I'm pretty sure my job will have evaporated once I do get released from the hospital.

I've said it before, and I will keep saying and believing it.  Freedom of Expression is not a license to be an idiot, but a freedom that comes with not only responsibilities, but in exercising that freedom, it comes with an acceptance of the potential consequences.  Hopefully the Google engineer understood that.  He expressed a point of view that put a wall between himself and many of his fellow employees.

Google needed to make a decision.  I saw there were several possibilities.  He could have been ignored, fired, or promoted.  Ignoring him would have been a tacit form of approval.  That would have been perilous for the working environment at Google.  Promotion would have been a disaster, except maybe in the more conservative circles who would see it as some sort of validation, much like a certain hamster-haired serial lying misogynist's election.  I don't think Google had much choice.  The 10 page manifesto listed a number of things that were certainly against the policies of the company, the impact on the work environment, I think may have been the metaphorical straw,  Google will catch some hell for their decision, but I still do not see their action as a free speech issue.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

When You Cannot Win With Evidence, Lie About It.

The Discovery Institute is at it again, not only are they betting against the possibilities of the future, but they have to change the definition of terms to support their position. Here is the post I am talking about, " “Fully Realized” AI Will Remain Forever on the Horizon – And That’s a Good Thing".

First off, just look at the title.  Does it remind you of anything?  It did me, how about "If God meant man to fly, he would have given him wings."  Yes, how many times has someone made a pronouncement that something or other will never happen . . . until it does!  Pretty much every invention had naysayers telling you how it'll never happen.  Luckily, no everyone listens to them.

Do I know Artificial Intelligence will happen?  I have no idea, but saying it will never happen seems to be pretty foolish, considering how often such statements are proven wrong.  Will it happen tomorrow?  Probably not, but claiming that it will "remain forever on the horizon" tells me how limited the author's imagination, and the DI as a whole because they posted this buying into it.  

Then I noticed who the author was and understood the lack of imagination. Davey 'klingy' klinghoffer certainly demonstrates very little imagination when looking at ideas that don't automatically fall in line with the DI's religious beliefs. Here is his opening statement:
"Overestimating the contribution of computers, failing to reckon with their spiritual costs, welcoming them deeper and deeper into our lives rather than seeking ways to limit them – these all go hand in hand with over-the-top expectations about the coming of “full” or “fully realized” Artificial Intelligence."
The 'spiritual costs' of computers?  Seriously?  Just what are the spiritual costs of computers?  Can anyone answer that question?  If you can't, you aren't alone.  I am sure similar issues were brought up with any technological advancement.  No one has been able to predict something as tenuous as the spiritual costs, yet it doesn't stop people like David from using it in such a negative way.  What I find funny is that I doubt klingy used a typewriter to write up his little post, it's being read from a set of servers and available to the world over another computer-related advance, the Internet.  So . . . just what sort of spiritual cost gets charged against klingy for using the very technology he seems to question?  I wonder if klingy has a smartphone as well?  Writing 'Computers are Bad!' on a computer just seems more than a little silly.

Now for my second issue, I want to lay a definition on you:
Methodological Naturalism: "Methodological naturalism does not concern itself with claims about what exists, but with methods of learning what nature is. It attempts to explain and test scientific endeavors, hypotheses, and events with reference to natural causes and events." (Wikipedia:
Methodological naturalism)
Now look at what klingy's post quotes about it:
"They never question methodological naturalism — the belief that there is nothing that exists outside the material world — which blinds them to other possibilities."
Let's be clear, methodological naturalism is not the belief that nothing exists outside of the material world, but a methodology to examine the natural world.  It doesn't address the supernatural, that's outside the scope.  It's like asking a doctor of medicine why can't he fix a jet engine! 

Hopefully you can see the difference.  klingy and company have to switch up the definition, because if they didn't their anti-science argument weakens.  Their argument is basically science doesn't address the supernatural because they are close-minded and not open to it.  The reality is science doesn't address it because it's outside the scope of scientific methodology -- how do you test the supernatural?  Of course people like klingy don't actually address the supernatural in any detail, they only make unsupported claims.

If you think their claims are supported, just ask yourself what questions have been answered by the supernatural?  What advances?  Name one question that can be answered by the supernatural reliably or repeatedly?  Prove that prayer works?  Prove any action by a supernatural entity?  You can't do it, and they never have been able to either -- for all their posturing!

Science offers real explanations, useful, usable explanations!  That's because they follow a methodology that addresses the world based on actual evidence.  It's answers are both repeatable and reliable. Making the claim the way the DI does is sorta like saying 'The steak was awful because there were no carrots in it', or '1 + 1 does not equal 'Northern European Monarchies, therefore mathematics doesn't work'.  It's not just an apples to oranges comparison, but even further apart than that.  Natural explanations do not deny the supernatural, it doesn't address them at all -- that's what 'out of scope' means.

I feel that one reason the DI makes this argument so often is because they have continually failed to provide any evidence to support their religious beliefs.  So in order to try and keep the marketing going, they have to mis-represent science to try and artificially level the playing field.   When you can't compete with evidence, lie about it.  That's what changing the definitions are to me, a form of lying.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What Harry said in 1948 rings true today more than ever!

Gryphen, over on the Immoral Minority blog had this terrific post "Remember, Harry Truman had the Republicans' number almost 70 years ago." reminding us of the words of Harry S. Truman in 1948. They bear repeating in these times:

"Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke.
They stand four-square for the American home — but not for housing.
They are strong for labor — but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights.
They favor minimum wage — the smaller the minimum wage the better.
They endorse educational opportunity for all — but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools.
They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine — for people who can afford them.
They consider electrical power a great blessing — but only when the private power companies get their rake-off.
They think American standard of living is a fine thing — so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people.
And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.
Now, my friends, that is the Wall Street Republican way of life. But there is another way — there is another way — the Democratic way, the way of the Democratic Party."(Source)
If Harry was giving the speech today he might have added a few things, perhaps:
  • Republicans are all for Women's Rights, as long as it isn't the right to control their own bodies or the right of equal pay for equal work.
  • Republicans support Civil Rights, as long at those rights aren't actually implemented in a way that might be construed as fair.
  • Republicans approve of Gay Marriage, after all, marriage between a man and a woman should be happy!
  • Republicans believe the climate is changing, but not that human activity could be a significant contributing factor -- because that would limit the amount of funding received from those patriotic energy companies.
  • Republicans support Freedom of Religion, as long as they are free to support whichever religion means the most votes for them.
And some people wonder why I have separated myself from the Republican Party!  ("I Believe it is Time to Part Ways with the Republican Party", "I've Been Getting Some Flack Over My Issues With the Republican Party").  I am not saying the Democratic Party is perfect, but when you compare the platforms of both parties, one stands much closer what we should strive to be as Americans, and it's not the Republican Party!  Currently I am registered as an Independent, and plan to stay that way until one party stands for not just a majority of the things I support, but stands for things that make sense in the 21st century, not the 19th.

Reclaiming the Rainbow -- yes, it's as Stupid as it Sounds

Little kennie ham wants to reclaim the rainbow, his target is -- of course -- the LGBT community who use the rainbow to symbolize things that apparently kennie finds abhorrent -- you know things like peace and diversity.

Since the 1970's the Rainbow Flag has been used by the LGBT community as:
"The rainbow flag, commonly known as the gay pride flag or LGBT pride flag, is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements. Other uses of rainbow flags include a symbol of peace and the colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community, as the flag is often used as a symbol of gay pride during LGBT rights marches. While it originated in Northern California, the flag is now used worldwide." (Wikipedia:
Rainbow flag (LGBT movement))
So, for over 40 years this symbol has just recently become a target for little kennie. Why is that?  I don't think it really has anything to do with the Bible, kennie is just using that as an excuse.  Little kennie is extremely Homophobic, and using the Bible in just this way rationalizes yet another attack on people who are different than little kennie and his Hamians.

Why do I think that?  Several reasons.  The first is that the LGBT community has been using the Rainbow Flag since the late 70's.  In other words it's been going on for 40 years and just recently little kennie played the rainbow card.  That tells me he really doesn't care about the Bible of the Rainbow, just looking for another way to attack people he doesn't like.

You see, kennie needs gay people.  Sounds strange, but think it through.  Little small-minded kennie need targets to rally his supporters against.  If he didn't have gay people, he would find another target.  Without groups to point to and try and proclaim some sort of superiority, kennie would have nothing!  His preaching doesn't encourage acceptance, diversity, or peace -- you know those Christian ideals.  His preaching wants and needs distrust and hatred to flourish, so he can continue his style of preaching and making a substantial living.  He tells people who to be afraid of, who to denigrate, and who to fight . . . that's his whole message.  He uses the Bible as a tool, not of enlightenment, but of segregation.  He's latest tool is the rainbow, that beautiful formation of nature.

Another reason kennie is just using the rainbow as another tool is ask yourself just how many times has kennie whined about the rainbow being used to support many other things, not related to anyone'e religious beliefs?  How about 'never!'  Things like leprechauns and breakfast cereal, candy, cartoon figures, a rock band, Christmas decorations, and politicians have used, or are using, the rainbow as a symbol.

Lucky Charms, Skittles, and Rainbow Brite are some examples.  There's a rock band called 'Rainbow', and Kermit the Frog sang about the Rainbow Connection'.  And, to really piss off kennie, a Rainbow Wreath for Christmas.  Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela referred to post-apartheid South Africa as the 'Rainbow Nation'.  Many political initiatives that span political parties are referred to as 'Rainbow Initiatives'.  If he was really interested in 'reclaiming the rainbow' his rant and rave wouldn't be targeting only one group who use the rainbow as a symbol, but all of them.

Yes, homophobic kennie . . . and don't let him tell you he loves gay people . . . he's as homophobic as $3.00 bill is counterfeit.  He compares homosexuality to other behaviors he considers a sin and tells you to love the sinner, but do not accept sinful behavior.  In other words as long as gay people don't act on their being gay, it's OK for them to be members of the church and  . . . I guess . . . be employed at one of his ministries.  I do have to wonder how many closets in kennie's little corner of Kentucky are hiding gay people who are too afraid to come out?  Probably more than kennie will ever admit to having.

There is a couple of final problems with little kennie's argument.  Take anything that is used as a symbol . . . can you find one instance where it can only be used for just one thing?  Little kennie can keep calling the rainbow as having religious significance, but kennie doesn't have the right to prevent any other group from also using it as a symbol for themselves?

In closing, I have to say it is the height of hubris to try and lay some sort of ownership claim to a rainbow.  Rainbow's existed well before kennie's little stories were written and will continue to exist even after little kennie's version of a religion is relegated to the history books.  That's one thing we can all hope for, little kennie's incredible narrow and hate-filled point of view being relegated to the history books.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Discovery Institute is Hosting a Little Get-Together -- and it's for Everybody -- or is it?

Here is their announcement.  "Join the ID Debate! Private Networking Conference in Seattle, October 6-7" and here is a few quotes, I added the underlining for emphasis:

"The debate about intelligent design in nature is for everybody. ID presents an ultimate question, far from being limited in the scope of its relevance to just scientists or philosophers."
This opening implies that the debate is open to everyone, which may be true, but the reality is most people don't care about the debate.  Seriously!  There is a small minority of theists who want to replace science with their religious beliefs, a vocal minority, but a small one.  So not only is the debate not really for everyone, the title of the post is a 'Private Networking Conference', so you know this conference isn't for everyone either.  Maybe they'll explain more about who can attend later, in the meantime there are a couple of other things I an interested in.

Intelligent Design (ID) presents an ultimate question?  Really?  Any questions ID raises are usually a form of a tautology or so vague any answer is meaningless. Seriously, tell me one question ID has raised that actually cast any doubts on real science?  The nearest they have come is pointing out things that may not have been fully explained by current science -- but what do those questions have to do with ID?  Look at Behe's 'Darwin's Black Box' and you will see what I mean.  Behe listed a bunch of things that science hasn't explained to some ill-defined arbitrary standard, but at no time did he make a connection to ID other than to claim maybe an intelligent designer did it, or maybe a space traveling alien.  In other words, 'who knows' is not support for ID.  Even if his questions were valid, they don't offer any support for ID. Anyone have anything better?  I would be greatly surprised.

Back to the 'everybody' question.  They do go on to explain that it's not just scientists and philosophers, but everybody?  But not really 'everybody', sorta like their summer program, there are some qualifications:
"To join us, you must apply beforehand and explain your purpose and interests. The meeting is private and open to guests only at the discretion of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture."
Do you remember their Summer Program? Applications had to include:
  1. A copy of your resume;
  2. A letter of recommendation from an ID-friendly source;
  3. A copy of your academic transcript;
  4. A short (one page) statement of your interest in ID within your field of study.
Yes, for this 'conference' as well, you have apply beforehand and get vetted by the DI.  So you know there won't be a dissenting voice in the house.  If you hear anything about science, it'll be presented by one of the DI's own folks . . . and we know just how objective they are on that subject.  I see a lot of strawmen also attending this 'conference'.  A couple of last quotes:
"Ask questions, pose challenges, and sharpen your skills as an ID advocate. We’ll help equip you for this challenging intellectual battle."
Has this really been an intellectual battle?  No much sign of it.  Cultural battle, certainly, maybe philosophical battle is a better term -- but when you hear the phrase 'intellectual battle', this debate isn't what comes to mind.  There is an old joke whose punchline embodies something along the lines of 'refusing the enter a battle of wits with the unarmed'.  That's what this battle would look like if it was an actual intellectual battle.  One the one side you have 150+ years of science, evidence, and support and the clear majority of the scientific community -- and in the other corner you have a religious philosophy dressed in an ill-fitting lab coat with nothing but conjecture and wishful thinking.  Even the few scientists who are on that side haven't been able to muster a single scientific argument, only religious ones..  Talk about battling the unarmed!

I remember Lewis Black, the comic, said a couple of interesting lines a while back: "Whenever someone says they believe the Earth was created in 6 days, I  grab a fossil and say 'Fossil!'.  If they keep talking I throw it . . . just over their heads."  He also said:  "They watched the Flintstones and thought it was a documentary!"

And finally to attend, you get to pay for this yourself:
"The price, at $75, is affordable. "
I'm not sure this is a really physical or virtual get-together.  From the price I would guess a virtual one.  You sure aren't renting a conference center for even a small crowd at $75 a head.  So you'll most likely get to dial in and listen, maybe ask a question or two, only after you have been vetted by the DI and you get to contribute to the DI coffers.

I guess calling it a 'private networking conference' is supposed to somehow make you feel privileged.  But do you really think they are going to tell you things they haven't already tried to publicize and market to the widest degree possible?  Has any of their arguments changed in the last decade or two? They spin real science to try and create an ID-friendly message from other peoples' work.  They claim to not be pushing ID into the classroom, while continuing to create lesson plans just for that purpose. They will continue to cheer anti-science legislation, speak to religious groups and organizations, and publish in the religious and popular press -- avoiding real scientific journals.

More of the same, but you might feel special being in a 'private networking event' that's open to anyone who already agrees with their religious message and has a few bucks to burn.  I'm sure we'll be hearing what a wild success is was.  I wonder if they'll have the press release ready before the conference actually happens or will they bother to wait before announcing their success?