Tag Archives: Chimpanzees

What’s Wrong With Being A Mad Scientist?

Fictional mad scientists are most often portrayed as highly driven and glory hungry; they are the unwitting villains, the victims of their own inquisitive natures. Author, Reto Schneider, has written The Mad Science Book, which chronicles the history and present of questionable experiments carried out by real-life “mad” scientists. A list of nine of these experiments is on The New Scientist website. My favorite is Dogbot, the robot dog that was a social reject. Real dogs wanted nothing to do with him. Maybe his nose glowed red or he aspired to be a dentist. Whatever the reason, Dogbot was not allowed to participate in dog games.

What I like about mad experimentation is it’s raw unbridled curiosity. What does it matter if some experiments go wrong or if others are completely useless and outright wacky? What counts is that humans have a desire to understand the world. Thomas Edison was a mad inventor; he wasted ten years of his life on devising a new mining technique, which failed miserably. He also designed furniture and homes made out of that comfortable substance know as concrete. Not big sellers.

The lesson here is that in a complex world, curiosity saves the cat, it doesn’t kill it. But still there is an intellectual divide in society. There are those who care to know the world, and those who don’t care to have their world views tarnished by reality. I’m talking about creationists here. To them a mad scientist is someone to be feared.

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The Montauk Monster Eats Human Brains For Lunch

It looks like the mystery of the Montauk Monster is solved. It’s a decomposing raccoon with missing teeth and missing fur. But what’s fascinating about the story of the monster is that it inspired such imaginative stories and outrageous speculation.

What is it in our human minds that makes us choose the unknown over the known. Why do some of us reject reasonable explanations for fantastical ones? For example, the media and the public automatically assumed the creature washed up on the beach, that it had an aquatic origin, not a terrestrial one. Which one is more reasonable? It’s clearly a mammal. And raccoons do love the seashore and seafood.

And minds leaped to the conclusion that the Montauk Monster was a creature completely unknown to science. Why didn’t the same minds consider the possibility that the “creature” was just unknown to them, and not to science. Not all of us are experts on anatomy and the decay of animal remains. Why can’t we just admit ignorance, instead of grasping at straws?

When a reasonable explanation isn’t immediately available our minds seem to reach for the stars.

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Defeating Darwinism In 4 Easy Steps… Not

I enjoy reading PZ Myers’ blog Pharyngula, because he digs up the worst right-wing religious nutbars. And I get to comment on them, too. He found Bryan Fischer, a truly deluded fool. And hungry for more creationist foolery, I sifted through Fischer’s garbage – I mean archive – and went straight for his article on Deafeating Darwinism in 4 Easy Steps. Prepare to gag on the smell:

What follows is a straightforward, 4-step refutation of the theory of evolution. They’re easy to remember, and make a nice little cadence when spoken with a little rhythm: First Law, Second Law, Fossils and Genes. Armed with this truth, go forth and conquer.

Not even an encouragement to read a book or two? Just memorize these 4 things and regurgatate them at anyone who accepts evolution? Sadly, there’s more:

[E]volution teaches that everything that exists is the product of the random collision of atoms, this logically includes the thoughts I am thinking about evolution.

Ah. The ubiquitous “evolution is random argument”, reduced now to the atomic level. Does Fischer even know the difference between biology and physics? Now Fischer’s 4 steps in brief:

First Law of Thermodynamics.This law (note: not a theory but a scientific law) teaches us that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed…. What this means, then, is that science simply has no explanation for the most basic question that could possibly be asked: why is there something rather than nothing? Intelligent Design advocates have an answer to this question; evolutionists do not.

Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law (note: not a theory but a law) teaches us that in every chemical or heat reaction, there is a loss of energy that never again is available for another heat reaction… This law teaches us, then, that the universe is headed toward increasing randomness and decay… But what does the theory of evolution teach us? The exact opposite, that the universe is headed toward increasing complexity and order. You put up a theory against my law, I’m going to settle for the law, thank you very much.

Fossils. What the fossil record teaches us, in contrast to the theory of evolution, is that increasingly complex life forms appear fully formed in the fossil record, just as if they were put there by a Creator…. Evolutionists are at a total loss to explain the Pre-Cambrian Explosion… Thus the fossil record is a powerful argument for the existence of an Intelligent Designer while at the same time being fatal for the theory of evolution…. Intelligent Design theory has an explanation for the fossil record; evolution does not.

Genes. The only mechanism — don’t miss this — the only mechanism evolutionists have to explain the development of increasingly complex life forms is genetic mutation… The problem: naturally occurring genetic mutations are invariably harmful if not fatal to the organism.

Bryan Fischer repeatedly makes a distinction between a “law” and a “theory”, as he sees it. He thinks a law is somehow superior. He then contradicts himself by proclaiming the power of “Intelligent Design theory”. ID isn’t even worthy of the title of theory. If it is, then every marijuana induced epiphany is a law.

The 1st law of thermodynamics seems to contradict a creator. If matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, then how did a creator create them? How does ID answer this question? Magic? Anyway, it has nothing at all to do with Darwinian Evolution. But in Fischer’s mind there seems to be a connection.

The 2nd law of thermodynamics is an old creationist argument, easily disposed of. Basically, the earth is not a closed system. It receives energy from the sun. And no biologist ever said that the universe is becoming more complex. Fischer is just pulling arguments out of his ass, or someone else’s ass.

What Fischer doesn’t know about the fossil record wouldn’t fit in the Grand Canyon. Creationists never actually discuss the fossil record, they only discuss what they think the fossil record is. The two are light-years apart. Their fossil record is a caricature. Enough said.

Finally, most mutations are completely neutral, not harmful. Except for the ones Fischer’s mother accumulated prior to his birth.

I really do believe that creationist nutbars like Bryan Fischer are deeply afraid of science. It’s the only explanation for their complete ignorance. They stay so far away from it that not even a kernel of truth rubs off on them.

www.TheDarwinReport.com

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Florida Republicans Denounce Science

Alan Hays - Retired Dentist

Take a good long look at the dim-witted fool in the above picture. He just turned Florida into an international joke. His name is Alan Hays.

A nebulous bill that allows teachers “to poke holes in the theory of evolution” passed in the Florida House. The bill passed 71-43. The full story can be read in the Miami Herald.

State Rep. Alan Hays, the republican who sponsored the bill, commented:

That’s a fancy way of saying it allows the teachers, without fear, to expose the holes in the scientific theory of evolution, No fossils have been found and no witness has ever seen one species turn into another. This is only a theory. [emphasis added]

Alan Hays is a retired dentist. The reasons given for the legislation were “to protect teachers’ jobs” and to ensure “academic freedom”.

Asked which teachers fear that teaching the ”holes” in evolution will lead to trouble, Hays acknowledged he didn’t have any names. ”This is being done as a preventive measure,” Hays said.

I know where I’m not spending my next vacation. If you want to voice your opinion to the Florida Board Of Tourism, GO HERE.

If you want to support the Florida Citizens For Science, GO HERE.

Perhaps Alan Hays D.D.S. will comment on string theory next.

www.TheDarwinReport.com

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No Degree In Creation-ology For Texas Teachers

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board rejected the Institute for Creation Research’s bid ” to offer an online master’s degree in science education”. Basically, the ICR’s credit is no good, and teachers who only have an ICR degree are not qualified to teach in public schools.

The Dallas Morning News

Citing the group’s teaching of creationism rather than evolution in its science curriculum, Dr. Paredes said it was clear the school [ICR] would not adequately prepare its graduates to teach the scientific principles now required in Texas public schools.

“Evolution is such a fundamental principle of contemporary science it is hard to imagine how you could cover the various fields of science without giving it [evolution] the proper attention it deserves as a foundation of science,” he said.

“Religious belief is not science. Science and religious belief are surely reconcilable, but they are not the same thing.”

How beautifully honest is that language? Raymund A. Paredes is the commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Most often government officials tap dance around evolution and creationism with soft appeasing words, so as not to offend anyone. An example is John McCain and his stupid fence sitting answer at last year’s Republican Debate. So I have to applaud Raymund for getting to the crux of the matter.

Credit also has to go to the Texas Citizens for Science.

Before the vote, the board heard comment from several persons, most of whom urged rejection of the proposal. Among them was Steven Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science, who said the ICR was a Christian ministry rather than a science organization that was primarily interested in promoting pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience doesn’t spread when good people do something.

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Darwin Day World Wide Celebration 2008

February 12th is Charles Darwin’s birthday (Feb 12, 1809 – April 19, 1888). And people world wide are celebrating his life and remembering his achievements. Unfortunately the average person seems to know very little about Darwin and his work. Creationists systematically slander the man without actually having read any of his books. And public school teachers are forced to expose their students to dry factoids and poorly written textbooks. But there is much more to the fascinating history of evolutionary biology and its founder. Countless resources are available online for those who have an interest in learning more about Charles Darwin the man, the explorer, the naturalist, and, of course, the scientist. Here are just a few:

The Darwin Day Page

About Darwin: Dedicated To The Life And Times Of Charles Darwin

London Natural History Museum: Charles Darwin, the Young Explorer

University Of California Museum Of Paleontology

The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online

Talk Origins: Exploring the Creation Evolution Controversy

Darwin Day: Stony Brook University 2008

Darwin Day at Cal UCMP

University Of Wisconsin-Whitewater: Darwin Day Lecture

Check the web and see if a university near you is hosting an event.

HAPPY DARWIN DAY TO YOU ALL!

www.TheDarwinReport.com

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Planet Of The Egotistical Apes

Tarzan, Jane, and Son

By the power invested in me by the natural world, I now pronounce you man and ape. You may kiss the bride. Smootchie! Smootchie! Enjoy the honeymoon.

(According to a recent study chimps are better than humans at short term memory recall.)

Of course, the evolutionary link between human and ape is a major thorn in the ass of creationists. Some are known to actually proclaim, “I ain’t descended from no monkey”. Darwinians reflexively respond with the DNA evidence, which indicates a 98.89% genetic similarity between humans and chimps. Creationists scoff. But I think part of the problem is a lack of perspective on the part of creationists. In chapter 6 of his book, “The Descent of Man”, Charles Darwin wrote about the classification of humans as special. He said:

“If man had not been his own classifier, he would never have thought of founding a separate order for his own reception”

Would space aliens find humans so morphologically and behaviorally distinct from apes? The anatomists of the 19th century, long before the availability of genetic analysis, saw a staggering number of similarities between the greater apes and man. Anatomist T.H. Huxley wrote extensively on the “resemblances and differences in the structure and the development of the brain in man and apes”. He noted:

“[T]hat the difference between the brain of the chimpanzee and of man is almost insignificant, when compared with that between the chimpanzee brain and that of the Lemur [the lower apes].”

The sheer weight of all the evidence, not just one portion of it, drew most 19th century investigators to conclude that man and apes share a common ancestor. But the creationist modus operandi is to isolate and mangle specific data, and to ignore the big picture. However, by posing a ‘what if’ argument we can see that the objections proffered by creationists are emotionally based and ego driven. For instance, would creationists hate evolution as much IF it showed that apes descended from humans instead of the other way round? Under such a scenario the relationship of humans to apes doesn’t sound as objectionable. Human dignity is preserved. Humans remain at the top of creation. Unfortunately, for creationists it ain’t true.

Also, how can the human species be defined objectively? Darwin noted that a distinct classification point would be difficult to establish:

“In a series of forms graduating insensibly from some-ape like creature to man as he now exists, it would be impossible to fix on any definite point when the term ‘man’ ought to be used”

We can see that only by narrowly construing the evidence and ignoring valuable biological comparisons can the creationist perspective survive.

Editor-

www.TheDarwinReport.com

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