Tag Archives: darwinism

The Universe, Religion, and Radio Signals

If you haven’t heard Paul Harvey or Paul Harvey Jr. on the radio, then I envy you your ignorant bliss, for they both sound like a drunken Jimmy Stewart from the movie Harvey. The father and son “newsmen” do a short, cornball show covering the gamut, from world politics to folksy stories of small town America. The Harvey’s “reporting” style is reminiscent of old-time radio; imagine a man wearing a fedora, with one hand clasped over an ear, speaking into a enormous, chrome plated microphone. During their syndicated broadcast they shift seamlessly from important news stories to sales pitches for delicious buttery spreads to tales of conservative family values. I think Dude Lebowski might say the Harvey’s are out of their element, by about five decades.

Well, Thursday morning I woke up to Paul Harvey Jr. talking complete gobbledygook about the latest astrophysics and why it reestablishes the earth as unique in the universe. Have a listen, at least to the first 3 minutes.

Science texts for four centuries have insisted that the earth is nothing special in the universe“. No. Copernicus’ heliocentric model was just a technical detail about earth’s position in the solar system. It didn’t say anything about its status or importance in the universe. Although, based on a lack of distinguishing features, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that our solar system isn’t particularly special. After all, there are billions of galaxies each with billions of stars, as Carl Sagan might point out. But that’s not going to stop a theist from grasping at straws.

Inexplicable phenomenon“, “Dark energy“, “Dark matter“, “Dark flow“, and “Confounded. Leave it to a gullible fool like Harvey Jr. to invoke the god-of-the- gaps argument; if scientists don’t understand something then it must be supernatural. i.e. I don’t know how David Copperfield did an illusion, therefore it’s must be real magic.

Those dark forces… the infinitely vast reality that exists beyond it [the universe]“. Harvey Jr. thinks dark energy and dark matter exist beyond the universe. I didn’t know science could see that far.

Accepted without question“. Scientists interrogate each other into submission because science is a method of investigation, which cannot be done without asking questions. Religious faith is loyalty to an idea regardless of the evidence. Don’t theists typically balk at Q&A sessions?

The earth alone exists in a cosmic bubble“. Give a layman a little physics and he’ll twist and turn it into an Easter pretzel. It’s Harvey Jr. who exists in a intellectual bubble.

My advice is not to get your science news from giant invisible white rabbits named Harvey or credulous radio personalities.

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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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Texas Evolution Poll Dancing

Over at ScienceBlogs.com, PZ Myers, on his Pharyngula blog, issued a request for people to bust up a pathetic evolution poll (read the text of the story). His readers succeeded and the poll was dashed. The question asked in the poll was:

What do you think the appropriate lesson should be in public schools?

1. Evolution only
2. Evolution, pointing out weaknesses in theory
3. Evolution and creationism
4. Creationism only

What strikes me as disturbingly normal about this poll is that creationism is immunized against criticism. Evolutionary biology is a science and all scientific positions are open to falsification, if valid counter evidence is presented. But in the poll, creationism isn’t set up in the same manner as evolution is in choice #2. To be fair, shouldn’t there have been the following 5th choice?

5. Creationism, pointing out weaknesses in the theory

Denounce evolution all you want, but if creationism is to be allowed in the science classroom, it has to be able to withstand rigorous testing, picking and prodding. And that means looking at all its weaknesses. All of them. It’s kind of like asking a sleazy politician to open up his closet door. Skeletons aplenty.

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The Snake In The Garden Of Eden With A Squirrel

Gopher Snake

Evolution is truly fascinating. There’s a video of a squirrel tap dancing around a snake and bravely nibbling on its body. The quality isn’t that great, so the identity of the snake is a bit of a mystery. It acts like a rattlesnake, but it doesn’t have the arrow shaped head, which is characteristic of the viper family. However, non-venomous gopher snakes mimic the behavior of rattlers to scare away predators. And on top of that, even if it were a rattlesnake, the squirrel has a genetic advantage. Adult squirrels have a partial immunity to rattlesnake venom. They can take several hits of venom and still survive. They even have a physiological mechanism to heat up their tails, which fools with the snake’s heat sensing ability. The moral of the story is that our human preconceptions about what’s going on in the natural world are often wrong.

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Richard Dawkins Brings Some Rational Thought

A clip from “Richard Dawkins: Break The Science Barrier”

Americans need a mega-dose of rational thought. Why? Here are several reasons. The fact that psychic Sylvia Brown is allowed on TV. Oprah Winfrey recently did a show on “The Secret” and the “Rule of Attraction”, the incredulous belief system that wishing for a good thing makes its happen. I wish I lived on Bora Bora Island. Larry King recently did a show on UFO’s. The panel consisted of several UFO “experts” and one skeptic, Michael Shermer.  A scary poll from Florida indicates that 50% of Floridians want only Biblical Creationism or Intelligent Design taught in schools. Americans are sinking in post-modernistic belief and religious credulity. Basically, we are a society of anti-intellectual saps. And that’s dangerous, being that we are the superpower of the world.

We all need a shower in rational thought. So, watch Richard Dawkins’ video. After growing up on the mind numbing American media, it’s like sliding into a warm bath. Ahhhhhh! That’s much better.

Check out the rest of “Break the Science Barrier” on YouTube or watch it in three parts at Google Video.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Rational People Unite!

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Turkish Creationist Delight: Harun Yahya

Check out this self-promoting creationism pimp from Turkey: Harun Yahya. The picture at the bottom of his webpage makes him look like Turkey’s version of Don Johnson. The Miami Vice, pastel-colored, sports jacket craze went out in the late 80’s, at least in the US.

Harun, an author, who’s real name is Adnan Oktar, is refered to as a “prominent Turkish intellectual”. The Jerry Falwell of the Muslim world perhaps? From his over use of the words “Darwinist” and “Evolutionist”, we would have said prominent anti-intellectual ass-hole, who takes himself way too seriously.

Google the name, Harun Yahya, and you’ll find that he’s spread all over the web like a rash. From anti-evolution to holocaust-revisionism, as an ultra-conservative Muslim, he’s got his bases covered. You’ll find his creationist videos on YouTube under the title “The Collapse of Darwinism”. They’re good for a few laughs. 

An article from the Reuters UK website explains some of Harun Yahya’s activities.

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