September 9, 2007 - September 15, 2007 Archives

William Saletan at Slate takes a more skeptical look at some of the research referred to in PvM’s post below.

On “Threads from Henry’s Web”, Henry Neufeld writes more about Colling and ‘teaching the controversy’

This action shows some of the destructive potential of ignorance, but it also removes any fig-leaf of respectability from the “teach the controversy” argument. The advocates of creationism generally do not want the controversy taught. They want to win. If they were to win a court case allowing their materials into the public school classrooms, their next move would be to prevent critical examination of those ideas, and then to prevent the teaching of evolutionary theory itself. I simply don’t believe the public propaganda. I never have, but the evidence that it is pure propaganda just keeps building up.

Henry describes himself as “… an author and lecturer, owner of Energion Publications, and president of Pacesetters Bible School.” His description of the problems and risks of ID seem timely and to the point.

An acquaintance of mine died last week, and I just found out about it. Alex, Irene Pepperberg’s African grey parrot, is dead at the age of 31. There’s no particular cause that has been identified for his death, and he was pretty much just approaching middle age for an African grey. Alex is best known for being the primary subject in Pepperberg’s research on animal cognition, and especially non-human cognitive psychology, explored through Alex’s ability to communicate through spoken English.

More on the Austringer.

Is it just me, or is there something particularly ludicrous and pitiful about Ruse (or anyone) discussing with Paul Nelson what evidence would make Paul Nelson change his mind about ID, when Nelson isn’t even man enough to lift his head up out of the sand the tiny bit required to admit that the earth is old, that this is a hard evidentiary fact, that denying it is as perverse as denying that the Earth is round, and that the promotion of the young-earth view in evangelical churches is one of the greatest frauds in American history?

Of course, Ruse is too much of a softy to ask these kinds of questions,* which is exactly why the IDers keep inviting him (and paying him) to do these debates.

(* To be clear: Ruse is useful and a pro-science warrior on many things, but one thing he doesn’t do much of is challenge the creationists scientifically and force them to deal with the hard evidence that challenges their beliefs. Doing this takes a lot more work of course and only a few people are good at it.)

From reports that we are getting, starting yesterday a user account on YouTube, called cseministry, began fraudulently claiming that any video which criticized the felon, cheat, liar, fraud, huckster, etc. Kent Hovind violated the copyrights of the Creation Science Evangelism.

Under the draconian DMCA, CSE can use such false claims to silence their critics, with little legal risk to themselves. Once a claim has been filed, YouTube is required by US Law to remove the content immediately and without any review. The real copyright holders then have to jump through hoops to get their content back on YouTube, that is assuming that they haven’t already been falsely banned.

Hovind’s critics have a strong case against CSE’s DMCA claims because CSE’s own website waived copyright: “None of the materials produced by Creation Science Evangelism are copyrighted, so feel free to copy those and distribute them freely.” That waiver appeared in the About Creation Science Evangelism page as recently as yesterday. It looks like they’ve scrubbed their site today, after this waiver was pointed out to them. Apparently, CSE is trying to retroactively remove their productions from the public domain. (They can’t legally do this, but has the Hovind Bunch ever acted within the law?)

But more infuriating to me is that several users have reported that CSE is claiming copyright to homegrown videos that contain no CSE content, and in many cases no content by anyone other than the YouTube user. They are issuing clearly fraudulent DMCA complaints to remove videos critical of their organization and the liar that ran (runs?) it. This type of behavior should land the rest of the Hovind Bunch in jail except that fraudulent infringement notices are not illegal under the DMCA.

Update: And Now a Video

Tangled Bank #88

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The Tangled Bank

It's time for a brand new Tangled Bank at the Behavioral Ecology blog. It's got man-boobs, screwworms, and kumatos, so you don't want to miss it.

Politics on your mind?

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The Seattle Times has an interesting article on the link between political views and the brain

In a study likely to raise the hackles of some conservatives, scientists at New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles, found that a specific region of the brain’s cortex is more sensitive in people who consider themselves liberals than in self-declared conservatives.

Based on the findings we can make some predictions

Based on the results, Sulloway said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.

Or alternatively, conservatives will be less ready to accept new scientific ideas.

Imagine that

Well now we understand

Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times more likely than conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts and were 2.2 times more likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy.

ID proponents are quick to argue ‘viewpoint discrimination’ whenever their attempts to introduce their scientifically vacuous ideas fail. If ID were really interested in protecting people from viewpoint discrimination then surely they will be outraged by the following article Can God Love Darwin, Too?

Remember RIchard Colling, a biologist and professor at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois. In 2004, Colling wrote a book called “Random Designer”.

… as he said in a letter to students and colleagues this year—“I want you to know the truth that God is bigger, far more profound and vastly more creative than you may have known.” Moreover, he said, God “cares enough about creation to harness even the forces of [Darwinian] randomness.”

The endlessly litigious Larry Caldwell has lost his lawsuit against the Roseville school district in California. Caldwell’s suit claimed that the school board violated his constitutional rights by giving due consideration to his proposals to put anti-evolution material into science classes. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the school district, which is pretty much a thorough smackdown.

Continue Reading at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. Comments may be left there.

readingrainbow.jpg I learned today via an email sent to EvolDir, that some graduate students at Portland State University have put together a petition for Darwin Day. They plan to present this petition on February 12, 2009 to the Library of Congress, libraries, and bookstores, formally asking that that the anti-science works of creationists and intelligent design activists no longer be classified as “science” in libraries and bookstores.

Their hearts are in the right place, but I believe that they have misunderstood the issues facing our libraries and bookstores.

Well, I see that physician and Discovery Institute shill Michael Egnor has noticed me.

Egnor, a man whose arrogance and ignorance has already led to the coining of a new word, is unhappy about my critique of Tom Bethell. So unhappy, in fact, that he has to resort to forging fake quotes from my article.

Egnor claims that I called Bethell “a liar” - he uses those two words, and puts them in quotes. Any reasonable person would come to the conclusion that they appear in my article. Only problem is, the word “liar” doesn’t appear anywhere in my piece, as a text search will easily confirm. Gee, a Discovery Institute spokesman misleading the public - what is the world coming to?

Read more of the silly saga at Recursivity


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From Cassini Raw Images, specifically here.

According to the Waco Tribune‘s story on the Baylor controversy:

Intelligent design asserts that certain things in the universe can result only from an intelligent cause or God.

HT: Andrea Bottaro

Iapetus flyby today!

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What with graduate school and all, I almost forgot about the thing I have been anticipating for months – the Cassini spacecraft‘s superclose flyby of Iapetus. It’s happening right now apparently. So finally we might find out whether or not that crazy equatorial ring really is a spaceship runway like the UFOologists say. I mean, obviously a perfectly straight line of mountains on the equator can’t be explained by natural regularities or random chance, so it’s got to be ID, right? And of course the creos will say that whatever they find is evidence for a young universe.

Check out the final exchange about intelligent design between John Derbyshire and Tom Bethell, where Bethell insists that creationism and intelligent design are as different as chalk and cheese. (Part 1 here; Part 2 here.)

In it, Bethell demonstrates once again why he is a blathering buffoon. Bethell tells us that “Structures or signals of specified complexity permit an inference to design without any necessary recourse to the supernatural” without bothering to mention that “specified complexity” is junk mathematics and doesn’t permit an inference to anything at all, except that Bethell is rather gullible to accept William Dembski’s assurances as gospel.

Read more at Recursivity.

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