Monday, April 20, 2009

ID and Critical Thinking

A false Premise will not lead to a true Conclusion.

You know, if I was a proponent of Intelligent Design ("ID"), I would not take the stance, We need to teach ID in the classes so the students will learn critical thinking. Because I would not want critical thinking within a 100 yards of ID.

Take, for example, the Earth is 6000 years old. A calculation arrived at by an Irish bishop who assigned an arbitrary number of years to each generation or "begat" in the Bible and used that to calculate the Earth was 6000 years old.

(Archbishop Ussher in 1650 in his book, Annals of the Old Testament.)

That is NOT scientific in any shape, way or form. That is not even good critical thinking. All this bishop did was speculate - that's all he really did.

Any decent high-school debate team would be able to take the proposition, "The Earth is 6000 Years Old," and rip it to shreds. It is logically indefensible. And that means the bishop was doing nothing more than speculating. And yet that is presented to us as rock-hard fact.

Compared to THIS, any inconsistencies in Evolution pales to insignificance.

Gensis in the Classroom


So picture this:

SCENE: It's a high-school classroom-- could be in Texas, could be in Ohio, or any place the fundies forced ID on the student body--and it's first-year Biology. Teacher walks in:

ap Morgen: OK, class, listen up. Stevens! Put the DS1 away! Our subject today is Intelligent Design.

Class groans.

Vicki: Creation again? We've heard that so many times.

Vince: Yeah, every sunday school!

Stu: C'mon, Teach--isn't that a myth anyway? I thought we were doing science?

ap Morgen: According to the school board ID is a valid scientific theory.

Kathy: Since when? If it's science, why do the fundies in the school board have to cram it down our throats?

Stevens: I mean, what's the deal? God played with some mud and BOOM! we're here? I didn't believe that even when I was a kid.

Clark: I know! Let's do a class experiment with some clay and see if we can make a human.


Stu: Hey, Walker! You were telling us about some website that had biblical Hebrew and something about the "mist" in Genesis was actually "semen"?

Walker, hiding his face behind his text book, turns beet red.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Nature of the Beast

Here is an excellent lecture on evangelists and the far-right and their efforts to reshape America--and the threats to all our civil liberties.

Chris Hedges: Who Are the American Fascists?

For those wondering what is going on about Xtian Reconstructionism and why there is so much concern this lecture provides an informative overview of this political movement and it's irrational goals.

I've often wondered at the extreme reaction of the far right to Obama's upset election by a large majority and the conservative hysteria afterwards. Now I see it's the nut jobs believing how evil (literally) has triumphed over good.

Masterful Summary

This is taken directly from the Swift Forum at

Why Evolution is True.

But the ending quote from Jerry Coyne's book is such a masterful summary of evolution's validity I had to include it here:

"Every day, hundreds of observations and experiments pour into the hopper of the scientific literature... and every fact that has something to do with evolution confirms its truth. Every fossil that we find, every DNA molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports the idea that species evolved from common ancestors. Despite innumerable possible explanations that could prove evolution untrue, we don't have a single one. We don't find mammals in Precambrian rocks, humans in the same layers as dinosaurs, or any other fossils out of evolutionary order. DNA sequencing supports the evolutionary relationships of species originally deduced from the fossil record. And, as natural selection predicts, we find no species with adaptations that benefit only a different species. We do find dead genes and vestigial organs, incomprehensible under the idea of special creation. Despite a million chances to be wrong, evolution always comes up right. That is as close as we can get to a scientific fact." --Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne pp. 222-223.

A Shred of Decency

I can't help but wonder about the many people in America who are "conservative" in outlook, who do what they can everyday to make their world a better place, to help others, to improve our society and enrich our culture--and who facepalm everytime Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich or Ann Coulter appear as a talking head and groan, "Oh, god, not again!" Can you imagine being saddled with such cretins? Everytime they try to propose fiscal responsibility, up pops Rush Limbaugh? Or when debating educational reform there arises from the crypt Newt Gingrich? Or examining the value of social services Ann Coulter fouls the well? It may be the real danger of these neo-con icons is not regression but paralysis. Stagnation.

The Time Machines of the Right

As the ultra-conservatives flounder and flail, a disturbing trend emerges: Having failed to convince the American people their social maladjustment is normal and patriotic, they now regress to rewriting history. Since our education system has been in trouble for some time, many people in their 20's and 30's have a poor knowledge of history and can't make informed decisions about this. Is this true of most journalists as well?

Media Bi-assed

Can we please stop arguing whether the media is liberal or conservative? The media is corporate, with all that entails. Whatever raises the bottom line.

Arguing media bias is like arguing whether they're going to stab us in the back with the left hand or the right. We've become blasé over the fact we're being stabbed in the back.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Poor Editing?

I always had the impression news editing had to be clear and concise; to use the fewest words possible. Then I ran across this news blurb in Yahoo:

"AP - President Barack Obama absolved CIA officers from prosecution for harsh, painful interrogation of terror suspects Thursday, even as his administration released Bush-era memos graphically detailing — and authorizing — such grim tactics as slamming detainees against walls, waterboarding them and keeping them naked and cold for long periods."

Tsk, tsk. Using several adjectives where only one is needed. Let me clear this up for them:

"AP - President Barack Obama absolved CIA officers from prosecution for torture of terror suspects Thursday, even as his administration released Bush-era memos graphically detailing — and authorizing — such grim tactics as slamming detainees against walls, waterboarding them and keeping them naked and cold for long periods."

There. After all, torture is just a word--isn't it?